The Cyborg Advantage

Discuss the philosophy found in the various incarnations of Ghost in the Shell

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Freitag
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The Cyborg Advantage

Post by Freitag »

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/03/s ... on_cyborgs
Which are smarter, humans or machines? Back in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer struck a blow for bots when it beat Garry Kasparov at chess.

Deep Blue won because computers can perform endless lightning-fast calculations; humans can’t. It basically prevailed through brute force, examining millions of possible moves to find the best ones.

That’s not how humans play chess. Grandmasters rely on strategy and intuition honed by years of experience and study to produce an “aha” moment. Human smarts and silicon smarts work in very different ways — which gave Kasparov an intriguing idea. Instead of competing, what if humans and computers worked as a team?

To find out, he created what he called advanced chess, in which players are assisted by off-the-shelf software. Each competitor enters the position of their pieces into a computer and uses the moves that the program recommends to inform their decisionmaking.

At a “freestyle” online tournament in 2005, where any kind of entrant was allowed, such human-machine pairings were absolutely awesome. In fact, the overall winner wasn’t one of the grandmasters or supercomputers; it was a pair of twentysomething amateurs using run-of-the-mill PCs and inexpensive apps.

What gave them the upper hand? They were especially skilled at leveraging the computer’s assistance. They knew better how to enter moves, when to consult the software, and when to ignore its advice. As Kasparov later put it, a weak human with a machine can be better than a strong human with a machine if the weak human has a better process.

The most brilliant entities on the planet, in other words (at least when it comes to chess), are neither high-end machines nor high-end humans. They’re average-brained people who are really good at blending their smarts with machine smarts.

The thing is, this sounds a lot like our lives. We now engage in cyborgian activity all day long. We use Google to find information, rely on Facebook or Twitter to tell us about people we’re interested in, and harness recommendation tools to suggest news stories and cultural events.

These days, though, there’s a big debate between folks who love our modern, digitally enhanced lifestyle and those who are unsettled by it. The chess example shows us why there’s such a gap. People who are thrilled by personal technology are the ones who have optimized their process — they know how and when to rely on machine intelligence. They’ve tweaked their Facebook settings, micro-configured their RSS feeds, trained up the AI recommendations they get from Apple’s Genius or TiVo.

And crucially, they also know when to step away from the screen and ignore the clamor of online distractions. The upshot is that they feel smarter, more focused, and more capable. In contrast, those who feel intimidated by online life haven’t hit that sweet spot. They feel the Internet is making them harried and — as Nicholas Carr suggested in The Atlantic — “stupid.”

It’s not like the machine age is going away. We’re sure to depend increasingly on digital assistance for thinking and socializing, and each new technology will extend our reach while threatening to swallow even more of our attention.

As we face that trade-off, figuring out how to integrate machine intelligence into our personal lives becomes the key challenge. When should you rely on online tools to fill you in on the news or your friends’ lives? When should you forage on your own?

There’s no one answer — and there never will be, because everyone is different. It’s a personal quest. But there’s also no avoiding the question, because it’s clear that serious cognitive advantages accrue to those who are best at thinking alongside machines.

Ultimately, the real question is, what sort of cyborg do you want to be?
People tend to look at you a little strangely when they know you stuff voodoo dolls full of Ex-Lax.
CleverUsernameHere
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Post by CleverUsernameHere »

Theres this book called Headgames by Mariah Fredricks where one of the characters says "I'm not smart, I'm bright. There's a difference. There’s different kinds of intelligence. There’s school, that’s smart. Then there’s creativity, and that's... brightness. Being bright. I’m that. And then there’s intelligent, which is kind of like the two combined." Humans and computers have different levels and variations of intelligence and they rationalize things differently. Put a level-headed human and a functioning robot together and you've got a pretty amazing combination. :) If I were a cyborg, I'd definately prefer the balance. What about you?
"It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to."- Catcher In The Rye
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Freitag
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Post by Freitag »

I like that smart/bright distinction.

The thing I am really good at is making connections between things so that I can re-use already thought out ideas.

I'm slower when it comes to new things, but after enough old things, almost everything is similar to something else.
People tend to look at you a little strangely when they know you stuff voodoo dolls full of Ex-Lax.
CleverUsernameHere
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Post by CleverUsernameHere »

Yeah I thought it was a good way to put things. Haha I'm better at building on stuff than I am coming up with a completely new idea, so I can definately relate.
"It's funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they'll do practically anything you want them to."- Catcher In The Rye
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Whisper
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Post by Whisper »

I don't believe in perfect. Not even as a balance. Because the perfect balance is one that includes elements of all things... thus ultimately.. all things. Period.

It's an interesting topic to consider. But the quest for perfection is also the quest for singularity.

And singularities are bad. Really bad. Personally I feel that no one thing should be accessable and usable by everyone. That is, no one piece of technology should be in everyone's coat pockets.

Choosing one thing over another out of preference gives life variety. And in all hopes, fulfillment.

If I could have a completely predictable companion, how could I ever hope to be impressed? How could it ever get my attention?

Much like a dealing with a child, or more specifically your child, you cannot ignore the responsibly you have. Giving it everything doesn't necessarily turn it into a well mannered child, neither does leaving it to its own devices.

Computers, cyber-enhancements... I consider that in the same way. Going out of your way, giving yourself a disadvantage and losing is sometimes better than success.

Many people have called me bright, some have even gone so far as to call me a genius. But I disagree with them all.

I use to say this a lot: "The older I get and the more I learn, the less I understand."

At first glance it might be easy to misconstrue that as someone saying they aren't learning.. or "don't get it." or even "don't want to get it."

But in truth, I just get so gosh-darn sad when I see tragedies and the like and have virtually no way to help.

Sometimes I feel so damn useless it hurts. And when people try to pass off that garbage of "Hey, that's life." I get upset.

I'm the kind of guy that when someone tells me that something's the way it is because it's just that way, I protest. I personally feel that's the problem. Being satisfied with something you're not isn't going to make it go away, it's not going the make the situation any better.

So how do you solve this problem? *shrugs* I don't rightfully know . . . Hope to find out some day. Hope to find that one way I can make the world a little bit brighter.
Original? Copy? I come from a world where such words are meaningless.
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