Should we be worried?
It was only a couple of years ago when the majority of industry professionals believed that we were still decades away from seeing a computer win at a high level playing the ancient Chinese game GO, but for two straight days now AlphaGO has beaten ten time GO world champion Lee Sedol. Demis Hassabis, CEO of Googles DeepMind Technologies and developer of AlphaGO stated in his twitter feed that AlphaGO used some “creative moves”. Also on Twitter the Go master says he was stunned by some of AlphaGO’s moves. “It placed the stones in such unconventional places.”
So why GO and not Chess?
Simply, computers have been playing chess and beating masters for many years, but the game of Go long remained unbeaten at anything other than a basic level. Go is widely held as a far more complex game than chess with the possible moves reportedly numbering more than the number of atoms in the universe. Chess is an almost entirely left brain analytical game whereas GO uses both left brain analytic as well as right brain artistic and pattern recognition.
Stepping toward Singularity?
Well Billionaire Elon Musk Founder of SpacEx and co Founder of Tesla seems to think we may be. Alongside some of Silicon Valleys big hitters he has formed Open AI not to see a return on his $10 million investment but “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.” He believes that by opening up the field of AI to everyone they will “counteract large corporations who may gain too much power by owning super-intelligence systems devoted to profits, as well as governments which may use AI to gain power and even oppress their citizenry” There have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator; there are some scary outcomes. And we should try to make sure the outcomes are good, not bad.
We Shouldn’t be Worried. Yet.
Dr Simon Stringer, director of the Oxford Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence, believes that the sort of intelligence shown by the AlphaGO model is quite narrow and that if you want to solve consciousness you’re not going to solve it using the sorts of algorithms they’re using, he is however aiming to produce the first prototypical conscious systems, something very simple, somewhere between a mouse and a rat, within the next 20 – 30 years.
Our Sci-Fi Future, Silly or Terrifying?
The future is upon us and modern technological developments are now strikingly similar to the science fiction of the past. While we aren’t living in domed cities with flying cars, we’ve got buildings that reach for the heavens, drones delivering our packages, and self-driving cars are just over the horizon. The media often likes to compare new advancements in technology to the works of like The Jetsons, Star Trek, and some 1980’s and 1990’s Cyberpunk, because in many cases the new technology is a fairly easy comparison.
Flying cars, flat panel TVs, and video phones often are compared to The Jetsons, yet all of these innovations were envisioned decades before the TV show hit the airwaves.
In 1933, H.G. Wells speculated we might have small personal aircraft in his work “The Shape of Things to Come” – and we’re not much closer to having them now than we were then. Flat panel TVs were already in development in the early 1960s (around the same time the show was on the air) but were envisioned much earlier. The concept of video telephony initially became popular in the late 1870’s and Nazi Germany developed a working system in the 1930’s.
Star Trek is another show that’s dragged out for constant comparisons, this time whenever anything vaguely resembles its holographic or replicator technology.
Where a modern 3D printer is “replicating” the shape of an item, A Star Trek replicator was recreating an item on a molecular level. Try eating a 3D printed apple! While German scientists have created a system of scanning an object and recreating it elsewhere, they’re not really “beaming it” anywhere, but are basically combing a fax machine with a 3D printer.
Cyberpunk tales are typically set in worlds where corporations control innovation, launch satellites to connect the world to spread information, and maintain private armies. That vision is much closer to our reality. There are now giant corporations that literally control how we access the Internet. We already have private citizens like Elon Musk who is a billionaire with a private space program, who also is developing new ways to harness solar power.
The point is, that perhaps it is too easy to see today’s world as our old entertainment and ignore the fact that much of what The Jetsons “predicted” was completely wrong. We (sadly) don’t ever expect to see a flying car that can fold up into a briefcase. Likewise, teleportation and warp speed likely will remain just part of the Star Trek mythos.
Perhaps when it comes to the darker side of science fiction, we should be cautious and alert about where we may be headed, and should regard it as a portent of what to avoid – not a future we should embrace.
Don’t be Scared, jump in and try Linux, the waters Lovely!
Are you scared to try Linux? You’re not alone! For people bought up who have only ever lived in a “windows” universe it can appear to be an alien concept. If you even know of its existence and many don’t, you consider it only for geeks, as it’s sure to clunky and unusable. Prepare to be amazed then, modern Linux distributions or “distros” are simple and user friendly in the main (there are hundreds of releases depending on your requirement). They configure an amazing array of hardware outside box (I’ve yet to have a piece of hardware that isn’t automatically configured) and have a vast library of programs and apps.
With that said you may ask why should I bother, Windows is what I know and works! But Linux is free and it’s easy to find versions supported with updates for a minimum 4/5 years. Windows has a long life span also you may say, well yes but with system requirements increasing and the fact you can’t transfer Windows on one computer to another you are stuck with your existing version unless you want to spend more money.
Linux evolves over time and often has an upgrade path to a more updated version and even if you stay with your existing version your applications will be updated. Unlike Windows, Linux in all its forms has a basic Kernel or core operating system and built on that is your desktop environment, which offers a different user interface and can be changed easily to suit your requirements or taste.
The ultimate benefit of Linux is the absence of all the Malware and viruses, because of the nature of Linux it is “Almost impregnable”, any major change requires the user to input a password, the software in the databases is being continually improved and check by an army of self-motivated programmers because of the open source nature of the system (as opposed to a handful of Microsoft employees).
It can be quite frightening at first coming from Windows and sitting behind layers of security but you quickly adapt and realise that as long as your browser is up to date and you at least exercise caution in the sites you visit off the mainstream you are more secure than a windows setup with the most expensive antivirus scanner, malware scanner, firewalls etc. So put it this way, if a devious person wanted to write a virus they would have to contend with different flavours of Linux, a password entry requiring the user to authorise running it and a virtual zero day threat response for the software producers who can quickly update things to negate the problem along with a virtual universal rollout!
So it’s no surprise there are no known viruses in the wild and if any were about they would have no effect on an updated system so would be harmless. Why would they bother then? Windows is much easier prey.
So give one of the popular distros a try, you can try it live by running it from the disc to have a go first, I’m sure you will be surprised! My choice would be Mint, but there is also Ubuntu or Elementar.
Hope that was useful – feel free to comment and i will be glad to answer any questions for you
The term Cloud computing is the delivery of hosted services and applications over the internet.
Cloud computing enables people and businesses to use a computer resource, such as storage or an application, without having to build and maintain computing infrastructures in house. So you won’t need to set up a server and start a coding for the next 3 months.
There are many benefits form Cloud computing, here are a few:
The provider of a cloud service or application will continue to update their system with the latest functions and facilities and provide security updates.
Do more with less
Having data and software running in the cloud, companies and end users can reduce the size of their own data centers or eliminate their data center altogether. The reduction of the numbers of servers and software can reduce IT costs without impacting businesses and their IT capabilities.
With cloud computing the costs are more flexible because companies only need to pay for what they need or use. Most cloud provider’s offer different levels of services at different sign up fees which can depend on the requirements and number of staff etc.
Cloud computing providers maintain a 99.99% uptime. Normally if you are online the service is available to use whenever and wherever. Some applications work off-line and will update and synchronise when you are next connection to the internet.
Your applications and data are available to you or your employees no matter where they are in the world. Staff can take their work anywhere via smart phones and tablets or can work from a laptop. As well has Jordan IT Services I also own a graphic design business. Jordan IT Service needs an office with staff, however the design business can be run from a laptop from anywhere. So, I find myself taking my laptop everywhere with me, even on holiday.
Finally – Cloud computing security, is it safe?
Security is a major concern for any business sending data out to a cloud service. Many businesses and organizations are bound by complex obligations and government standards and have a fear of loss or theft. With more reliable data encryption and security tools available, things are slowly becoming more and more cloud based.
According to a report published today by the Parliamentary group “The Science and Technology Committee” there is still a huge number of UK residents without computer skills and this digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63 billion a year in lost GDP.
12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills; 5.8 million people have never used the internet; only 35% of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30% of the required number of computer science teachers have not been recruited; and 13% of computer graduates are still unemployed 6 months after leaving university.
Science and Technology Committee Chair, Nicola Blackwood MP said:
“The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need”
The report also calls on the government to put “digital skills at the heart of modern apprenticeships”
Where to Learn?
If you feel that your own skills are somewhat lacking or that you are falling behind the times where should you go? Most local authorities publish computer courses and there are numerous types of online tuition available. The BBC for example has a whole section on its website devoted to upgrading the computer literacy of the nation. The National Careers Service too has lists of relevant courses.