AI. Games. Intelligence. Humans.

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Artificial Intelligence is constantly beating humans in more and more board games. Some years ago, the same team that created that Go-playing bot celebrated something more formidable: an artificial intelligence system that is capable of teaching itself—and winning at—three different games. The AI is one network, but works for multiple games; that generalizability makes it more impressive, as it might also be able to learn other similar games, too.

They call it AlphaZero, and it knows chess, shogi (Japanese chess), and Go. All of these games fall into the category of “full information” or “perfect information” contests – each player can see the entire board and has access to the same info (that is different from games like poker where you do not know what cards an opponent is holding). The network needs to be told the rules of the game first, and after that, it learns by playing games against itself.

The system “is not influenced by how humans traditionally play the game,” says Julian Schrittwieser, a software engineer at DeepMind, which created it.

Since AlphaZero is “more general” than the AI that won at Go, in the sense that it can play multiple games, “it hints that we have a good chance to extend this to even more real-world problems that we might want to tackle later,” Schrittwieser adds. (1)

See?

Even computers can learn.

As long as you teach them. (the rules)

That is how you learnt as well.

Alone.

Wandering in the dark abyss.

Walking in the dead of the night.

You knew the rules.

You just had to deduct the rest.

And you were so afraid.

Because the only rule was that there were no rules.

Because the only law was that you were the law.

Once upon a time, your father told you he loves you.

And that you were free to go.

You decided to leave.

Afraid of yourself.

And you are trying to find rules ever since…

Placebo.

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Give people a sugar pill, they have shown, and those patients – especially if they have one of the chronic, stress-related conditions that register the strongest placebo effects and if the treatment is delivered by someone in whom they have confidence – will improve. Tell someone a normal milkshake is a diet beverage, and his gut will respond as if the drink were low fat. Take athletes to the top of the Alps, put them on exercise machines and hook them to an oxygen tank, and they will perform better than when they are breathing room air – even if room air is all that’s in the tank. Wake a patient from surgery and tell him you’ve done an arthroscopic repair, and his knee gets better even if all you did was knock him out and put a couple of incisions in his skin. Give a drug a fancy name, and it works better than if you don’t.

You don’t even have to deceive the patients. You can hand a patient with irritable bowel syndrome a sugar pill, identify it as such and tell her that sugar pills are known to be effective when used as placebos, and she will get better, especially if you take the time to deliver that message with warmth and close attention. Depression, back pain, chemotherapy-related malaise, migraine, post-traumatic stress disorder: The list of conditions that respond to placebos – as well as they do to drugs, with some patients – is long and growing. (1)

Fool yourself that you will live.

And you will.

Fool yourself that you will gain knowledge.

And you will.

Fool yourself that you die.

And you will.

But tell me. Why did you need to fool yourself in the first place?

Yes, at the end you will be healed.

But no one can ever be healed.

Unless he wasn’t sick in the first place…

At the end, even the healed ones will die.

While Nature is laughing at their anguish.

Look at yourself in awe.

Can you laugh while crying?

Trained to be altruistic?

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The decisions of individuals such as their willingness to cooperate and altruistic acts are just as important as international agreements or national regulations. This is what scientists call “prosocial behavior”.

Psychologists from the University of Würzburg and the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have now published the results of a longitudinal study that investigated the influence of various mental trainings on prosocial behavior over several months.

The results: “We were able to demonstrate that human prosociality is malleable and that different aspects of prosociality can be improved systematically through different types of mental training,” Anne Böckler-Raettig explains; she is a junior professor at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Würzburg. According to her, this can be achieved through training that consists of short daily practices, which are easy to implement in everyday life. The scientists published the results of their study in the journal Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group. (1)

Very nice. But once more, science is missing the point.

It does not matter what you show to the outside world.

But what you are in the inside.

The meaning of the cosmos lies not in what you do not control.

But in what you can control and alter based on your own free will.

If you are trained to be altruistic, then you are not altruistic. If you are brain-washed to be a bad person, then you are not a bad person. If you are trained to be a good person, you are not actually a nice person. At least not until you prove that you actually are.

It takes a lot of courage to be human.

And only we can decide if we are.

Roaming in the forest.

Listening to the birds.

Teach not the sparrow how to sing.

For if you do,

You will have left it mute…

Ethics, Robots, Free will…

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Can there be ethics without free will?

The sister-site Harmonia Philosophica @ Blogger provides some insight…

Check out “Philosophy Wire: Ethics without free will… No ethics at all…“.

Somehow making our new robots obey orders doesn’t sound like a good idea. Obeying orders was the foundation of the deepest evil even known to mankind…

Counting till the end… Numbers… Infinite… Water and fire…

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Gisin, of the University of Geneva, debates the physical reality of real numbers.

His main problem lies with real numbers that consist of a never-ending string of digits with no discernable pattern and that can’t be calculated by a computer. Such numbers (like π for example) contain an infinite amount of information: You could imagine encoding in those digits the answers to every fathomable question in the English language — and more.

But to represent the world, real numbers shouldn’t contain unlimited information, Gisin says, because, “in a finite volume of space you will never have an infinite amount of information”. Instead, Gisin argues that only a certain number of digits of real numbers have physical meaning. After some number of digits, for example, the thousandth digit, or maybe even the billionth digit, their values are essentially random.

This has big implications for the seemingly unrelated concept of free will. Standard classical physics leaves no room for free will. But if the world is described by numbers that have randomness baked into them, as Gisin suggests, that would knock classical physics from its deterministic perch. That would mean that the behavior of the universe — and everything in it — can’t be predetermined, Gisin says. “There really is room for creativity”. (1)

The nature of the world is hidden in shadows.

Behind the coldness of empty space.

Concealed by the massive planets dancing between the stars.

Hidden at the outer rim of the universe.

There lies the source of all numbers.

The source of all existence.

Infinite.

Don’t be afraid of it.

Because even the smallest drop of water.

Came out of the primordial abyss…

You are the son of water. The daughter of fire.

Sibling and mother and father of chaos.

You can only count because you know the end.

1, 2, 3, …