Is Machine Learning Scary or Interesting?

As if 2020 hasn’t zinged us enough, artificial intelligence recently took a giant evolutionary step forward.

Machine learning is the ability of a computer to teach itself without a human coding every question and response. This technology is being used for a variety of business reasons but is expanding at light speed to do so much more than business functions.

Like the fictional future world shown in the Terminator movies, one of the things it can do is produce perfect or nearly perfect complex computer code that can do complex things in a matter of minutes. A complex coding job typically takes multiple humans with extraordinary minds months and months. They painstakingly write tens of thousands of lines of code, and then it takes many more months to do trial and error testing.

Machine learning is apparently able to write workable code from a description of what is desired as an outcome. How can it do this? Because it already understands many of the basics from absorbing applicable portions of the internet concerning the subject matter and anything related to it.

Performing complex coding work in a few short minutes is only one of the potential applications of this advanced technology. In one of the other articles I read that I couldn’t find again, it was helping the medical community to find a COVID cure faster by being daily fed all the failures and successes and all data about symptoms and about resulting deaths. This sounds good.

In other cases, it’s being used to analyze nearly every human aspect of our lives which gets converted into product development, political decisions, and likely many more things that are not yet showing up in all the articles appearing about it. I feel like I’m already fighting to protect my personal privacy from invasive data mining of my browser usage. And don’t get me started on what apps collect. All this sounds bad to me because it could easily make personal privacy a thing of the past. Ever read 1984 by George Orwell?

The article that appeared in Wired was detailed. 

All this makes me nervous and I love technology. Is machine learning going to be used to help candidates with elections? I think that might be possible. The US claims it has leaped ahead of the rest of the world and that this technology may turn out to be the boost our economy needs. Sure, we need new sources of work in our country, but I think there are many ethical, human concerns about machine learning that need to be considered before it’s widely unleashed.

Not so long ago, I remember reading about a social media site using an early version of it and not being able to turn it off. Pulling the plug wasn’t easy. I also read about another instance where two of these learning machines that were linked together came up with their own language which no human could understand.

Why would machines need a new language to talk to each other? Why would they need one that humans didn’t understand?

Coders–think human controllers of computer behaviors and outputs–soon might need to be added to the endangered species list.

The “disruption” video below is about machine learning and writing. Someone is packaging, or planning to package, machine learning technology as potentially “helpful” to writers in the form of a text chat–via some app I assume–where a writer can talk with the primary machine (in which case they would be constantly teaching it even more than it already knows about all kinds of subject matter). Those in the video appear to be beta testers.

In this video, the writers are sharing their new characters, backstories, and ideas for the plot with the machine. What will ultimately happen when say a few thousand authors are using it? What it’s doing is not editing in the normal sense, though I think it looks a bit like editing at first glance. Human editors do sometimes make writing suggestions to change significant amounts of text. The chat app in the video is making full-out creative suggestions for more beautiful sentences than the author produced. Isn’t that my job to do as a creative writer?

Here are words I never thought I’d say… I hope in 2021 we don’t wake up to find machines have taken over the entire world. I wish that was a joke, but it’s not. This is the first time in my average human life that I actually believe it might just happen.

Special thanks to the Passive Voice Blog for posting the disruptive video link. I saw it there first. Pop over and check them out.

George, You’re Not Going To Believe This

I read George Orwell’s 1984 in school, but I had no idea back then I would one day be living it. I’m sure none of us did.

I went to the grocery today. I went at 7:15 in the morning, and by myself, because I’d already heard they weren’t going to let Bruce tag along with me. The parking lot was full when I arrived. There was one door letting people into the store and another ushering people out. I was counted both on entry and exit because only a fixed number were allowed to shop at a given time.

For once, the store was partially stocked with food, instead of being mostly empty as it had been on my previous trips during the last month, but there were signs over most items stipulating the limits of what I could buy. I pushed my sanitized cart through the aisles and waited for my turn when multiple people hovered near something I needed.

People were watching me shop the entire time to make sure I stayed 6 feet away from other shoppers. Some shoppers wore masks. Some wore gloves. Some wore both. Others like me–Baby Boomer rebel that I am–wore neither. I’m blaming my youthful years for my resistant attitude, but I’m sure my mental state is a lot more complicated.

I’m not going to apologize for my stubbornness or my need to be a little in denial. Please–no lectures. I get enough of those from my always prepared Marine husband. Next time I go, I probably will wear a mask, but today I was winging it. I hadn’t gone anywhere alone in weeks.

Okay… well… I’m not a complete rebel. I did have a tiny hand-sanitizer in my pocket, one of those “mini” ones from Bed, Bath, and Beyond that I’m sure someone got me for Christmas. I used it before I went into the store and after everything was loaded into the car. I don’t like it. I think in the big picture sanitizer and all anti-bacterial products compromise our immune systems. But the virus alternative is worse. I guess. Unable to mentally wade through all the daily bombardment of information and misinformation, I’m choosing not to listen to the news. I prefer to rely on common sense and caution and trying to keep my husband from being insane with worry.

However… despite the danger… I refuse to live in complete abject fear of every human interaction I have. I was raised to be nice, and friendly, and polite. I’m not saying all my choices this morning were smart. I’m just sharing how I felt about what happened today.

At the checkout line on the very clean floors of the store I shopped, there were do-not-cross lines which were precisely measured for maximum safety. Not a single rebellious person was in sight as I waited my turn. I think the other rebellious people were all like me–hyperventilating with panic on the inside while lecturing themselves about acting like a grownup instead of being freaked out.

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Hot, Sexy, and More Than Human

donna mcdonald, science fiction romance, cyborgs, genetic engineering
Tomorrow I am releasing Book 3 in my latest Science Fiction Romance series. Who knew I would have such a great time writing about cyborgs? They are a little scary, a little geeky, and whole lot sexy to balance it out. Peyton, King, and Marcus have made scientific research very interesting for me.

If you haven’t read these yet, I highly suggest starting with Peyton 313 because it is one with the background story that sets the tone for the rest.

Marcus is available for pre-order. Clicking on the photo will take you to the series page. You’ll see Book 4 listed there because I am already planning to write Eric’s story in a couple of months.

New Shifter Series – NANO WOLVES

nanowolves3

 

This is a new shifter series. Book 1 will be releasing on February 16. Many thanks to mega talented authors, Eve Langlais and S.E. Smith, for encouraging me to try writing shifters. Let me just go on record now. “You were both right. I love these stories. You may commence pointing your fingers and laughing at my paranormal naiveté. And I love you both for liking me enough to favor me with your great authoring wisdom–lol.”

Now that I have my confession to my author friends over with, would you like to read about Ariel’s story? It is available now for Pre-Order. Click here for links.

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