We Need to Stop Killer Robots from Taking Over the World
Nick Bostrom’s job is to dream up increasingly lurid scenarios that could wipe out the human race: Asteroid strikes; high-energy physics experiments that go wrong; global plagues of genetically-modified superbugs; the emergence of all-powerful computers with scant regard for human life—that sort of thing.
In the hierarchy of risk categories, Bostrom’s specialty stands above mere catastrophic risks like climate change, financial market collapse and conventional warfare.
As the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, Bostrom is part of a small but growing network of snappily-named academic institutions tackling these “existential risks”: the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge; the Future of Life Institute at MIT and the Machine Intelligence Research Institute at Berkeley. Their tools are philosophy, physics and lots and lots of hard math.
Five years ago he started writing a book aimed at the layman on a selection of existential risks but quickly realized that the chapter dealing with the dangers of artificial intelligence development growth was getting fatter and fatter and deserved a book of its own. The result is Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. It makes compelling—if scary—reading.
The basic thesis is that developments in artificial intelligence will gather apace so that within this century it’s conceivable that we will be able to artificially replicate human level machine intelligence (HLMI).
Once HLMI is reached, things move pretty quickly: Intelligent machines will be able to design even more intelligent machines, leading to what mathematician I.J. Good called back in 1965 an “intelligence explosion” that will leave human capabilities far behind. We get to relax, safe in the knowledge that the really hard work is being done by super-computers we have brought into being.
A Bluetooth-Enabled Vibrator Made Me Reconsider Sexual Intimacy
My lover is a luddite. He says he doesn’t want to rely on technology because he doesn’t want to feel its absence if ever it were to be taken away. For example, last week Earth skimmed the boundaries of a solar storm, which could have seriously disabled the planet’s electricity grids. Matt would have likely been inconvenienced, whereas I would have likely killed myself before its repair.
As a blogger for a media website, I feel very integrated with technology. I often write about personal experiences and sometimes I’m given free products to advertise under the guise of narrative. The OhMiBod® blueMotion™ Bluetooth™ enabled vibrator sat quietly in a bed of pink packaging paper. The small box depicted a man on an armchair pointing his smartphone at a female who seemed to be dancing. The inner pamphlet said that the device was “perfect for couple’s play,” so I stowed it aside and waited for Matt to come home from work. I was sort of confused by the company’s marketing objectives, ultimately, but curious to test its wares.
When Matt came home we took turns ridiculing the product, which was probably just a result of our insecurity or nervousness.
“Why would anyone want this?” laughed Matt. “Why wouldn’t I just control you with my hands?”
We made a virtual girl to see what Tinder had to say to her.
Why and How to Leave Facebook
is a Chicago-based new media artist, educator, and organizer. Briz teaches at the Marwen Foundation and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has shown his work internationally, and is the co-founder of the GLI.TC/H
conference. While all of that is undeniably impressive, I must say I knew Briz was a genius when I first saw, “Apple Computers
,” a powerful affront against Apple and a manifesto for the prosumer of our age. So, when Briz made “How To / Why Leave Facebook
,” a piece about leaving Facebook, I knew I should pay attention.
I recently left Facebook as well, but I was uninterested in any self-congratulatory artwork or dramatic fuck-you to the social platform. I hadn’t enjoyed my time on Facebook for a while, but Facebook had been such a large part of my life for 9 years. I don’t buy most complaints about it “not being real life,” or some useless addiction. As the largest social network in the world, Facebook is very much a part of real life, I just hadn’t felt like I was benefitting from that part of my life.
My vague discontentedness with Facebook finally reached a boiling point in light of theiremotional contagion study
. The highly controversial
academic study was recently published, and it claims that Facebook had secretly manipulated the emotional state of nearly 700,000 of its users. I understood that Facebook’s main purpose is to make advertising dollars from it’s users, but this felt excessively creepy. And as VICE News has already reported
, one of the study’s researches received funding from the Minerva initiative—helping the Pentagon study and quell social unrest—that made it all the more creepy. Yet I knew Briz would offer some insight beyond the most recent headlines.
Can Science Find a Safe Replacement for Alcohol?
There is a knot of pain just behind my right eye that throbs in time with my pulse. My eyes feel raw. My mouth is dry. Last night’s booze-induced heroics are a distant memory. In the harsh light of day, I feel simply terrible, and yet, next weekend, I’m liable to do it all over again.
When it comes to legal intoxicants, alcohol is essentially the only choice available. It is the world’s most widely used drug, and can be safely deemed toxic, addictive, and linked to violent behavior. As the failed American experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and 30s demonstrated, the desire for easy intoxication will seemingly always be a part of our society. But with a massive pharmacopeia and scientific infrastructure at our disposal, why do we still rely on such an imperfect means to accomplish that goal?
That imperfection was on display in a study released last week by the Center for Disease Control (CDIC). Their researchers have determined excessive drinking to be responsible for the deaths of 1 in 10 working-age adults in the US. In total, 88,000 Americans die every year from alcohol.
We Talked to a Dick Pic Expert About Vag Pics
Lawyer by day, dick pic critic by night, Madeleine Holden knows how to multi-task. The New Zealander is the curator and commentator behind Critique My Dick Pic
(Link NSFW), a virtual Day of Reckoning for the world’s crappy dick pics, which went viral
almost as soon as it began last September.
While the title alone was strong enough to garner tumblr attention, Holden’s blog is far from a gimmick. Submissions are assigned a letter grade and judged based on composition, lighting, and creativity, but the site has a strict no body- or size-shaming policy, and accepts submissions from anyone with a dick—men, ladies with strap-ons, and trans people are welcome to send in their artfully put together cock shots. Critiques are thoughtful (“Your dick pic is different in that your dick is soft yet you’ve managed to make it visually appealing by cupping it intimately with your hand”), funny (“Dude, this isn’t good. Your own girlfriend has given you a five and she loves you and knows about all your good qualities and likes that cute thing you do with your mouth”), and dripping with feminist swagger, much like Holden’s Twitter presence
As a sender and receiver of the occasional sexy message myself, I appreciate Holden’s efforts. There truly is a dearth of imagination out there when it comes to ways men choose to photograph their dicks. For a long time I held that against them—why was I messing with lighting and angles when I was getting sent the photographic equivalent of that comedy boner boi-oi-oiiing noise? I recently realized, however, that I was sending back full bod shots—this is where I had them beat. Turns out it’s hard (pun intended, forever) to take a pic of just genitals. Solo gens do not a cute pic make. At least not without some work. I thought it might be time to consult an expert. Can the vag pic have a renaissance like the one @moscaddie is helping bring about with the dick pic? We caught up with the dick pic critic, currently traveling around the States on a break from balancing criminal defense with Female God’s work to ask about logs, unsolicited sexts, and the future—if any—of the vag pic.
Note: The interview is worksafe, but consider this a blanket NSFW warning for the links.
VICE: Hi, Madeleine. So, Critique My Dick Pic started in September, inspired by one particularly well-done dick pic. Why do you think the current state of dick pics is so dismal? What are the main mistakes holding dick pics back?
Madeleine Holden: I think that the main problem with dick pics is that men are preoccupied with using them as an advertisement for their size, rather than as a piece of erotic material intended to turn someone else on. That’s the reason that most dick pics are logs
, and why an alarming number of them contain an inanimate object provided for scale
. Pictures like this reek of insecurity and they’re extremely dull. Dick pics should include some non-dick body parts, and a dispiriting number of them don’t.
Another reason that the current state of dick pics is so dismal is that there is a culture of non-consent that surrounds them. Dick pics are often thrust at women unsolicited on dating sites and social media, and they are widely reviled for this reason. We need to encourage senders of dick pics to share them strictly with people who want to see them.