Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control?

In the Guardian Book Preview of New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, author James Bridle discusses how our world is changing due to technology:  “Technology is starting to behave in intelligent and unpredictable ways that even its creators don’t understand. As machines increasingly shape global events, how can we regain control?”.

One of the more powerful systems in daily use is Google Translate.  “While a human can draw a line between the words “tank” and “water” easily enough, it quickly becomes impossible to draw on a single map the lines between “tank” and “revolution”, between “water” and “liquidity”, and all of the emotions and inferences that cascade from those connections. The map is thus multidimensional, extending in more directions than the human mind can hold. As one Google engineer commented, when pursued by a journalist for an image of such a system: “I do not generally like trying to visualise thousand-dimensional vectors in three-dimensional space.” This is the unseeable space in which machine learning makes its meaning. Beyond that which we are incapable of visualising is that which we are incapable of even understanding.”

 

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