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.

What’s In A Name? Demon vs Daemon vs Symbiont

Over the last couple of years, I have gotten a lot of reader email from my cross genre fans who tell me they have an strong aversion for the word “demon”, so strong it has kept them from trying this series. The Forced To Serve series is a science fiction action and adventure story, and not at all about a “demon from hell”.  “Daemon” (aka demon, daimon) means “an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force” among other things. 

Let me explain it another way. Did you ever watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? There was a character who had a “symbiont” installed in her. I used the term “demon/daemon/daimon” because I didn’t want to copy a term from Star Trek. Jadzia Dax was an officer who had all of her memories and all the symbiont’s. Jadzia was a Trill alien who joined with Dax the symbiont alien. That kind of blending of two beings into one always fascinated me so I wanted to create my own.

I recently changed the spelling of the word across this series to the term “daemon” hoping that future readers will bring a mythological context to mind when they see the books. I’m hoping to put out another in the series this year. Book 4 is currently being recorded in audiobook.

Book 1, The Daemon Of Synar, is currently offered as a free series starter. I’m offering Book 2, The Daemon Master’s Wife, free when you join my mailing list. 

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