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2023-05-27 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 342 references
[Comments enabled]  


They said "AI" and magically their stock explodes upward.

In all sobriety there is a pathway to serious innovation here; specifically, there is a lot of work being done on being able to substitute huge amounts of "training" data with more computing power.  This has been one of the conundrums forever; it in fact defined a huge part of the "de-mainframe" movement that had certain challenges that were very difficult to address -- specifically, I/O bandwidth which the mainframe was simply better at than "smaller" computers.  This in turn drove attempts to split up the work into parallel components all interconnected.

The folks on the front edge of this were often unsuccessful -- sometimes because people driving the process believed in that which mathematically wasn't going to work, sometimes because they were placing a bet on the advancement of technology that occurred more-slowly than it had to and sometimes because they just sucked at it -- what they were trying to do was possible, but not how they went about it.

AI is today thought of as "large language models" for the most part -- things like ChatGPT.  But there are smaller, more-specific forms that are already out in the field -- for example, security cameras that can identify a human face and track it.  That's quite useful and yet is a very limited for of "AI" as we think about it today.

There is always hype around the next new thing, whatever it might be, but most of the time, and for most of the people engaged in that endeavor, it fails and so do they.

This time feels like the last gasp at an attempt to herd people in the market -- which is hanging onto gains driven by uneconomic macro policies, specifically negative real interest rates -- by a thread.  I'm not liking this narrowing one bit particularly given what's driving it.

very much remember the furious valuation explosion in the 1990s and what happened in 2000.  If you think this will end any differently you're nuts.  The cryptokids were the last bubble driver and effectively screwed everyone who just wanted a nice, reasonably-fast graphics card in their PC by doubling or more the cost of said cards.  That's the market at work -- if you have more demand for a thing then of course price rises, and while more supply will come on vendors won't build it out unless they think that demand will be durable.

What I suspect is coming is the compartmentalization of actual usable "AI" into smaller "bites", driven in no small part by finding ways to code for GPU-type or even ASIC chipsets, taking advantage of their strengths and managing to shrink their monstrous data sets down to something that will fit in much smaller space.  Taken to its logical conclusion (and not beyond reasonable expectation either) this means compartmentalizing pieces so, for example, some of them run in your phone.  Not today -- but in a few more years.  Even more run on your laptop or desktop.

And ultimately this means that the hype collapses and the alleged "value" that is being bet on is just like Tulips -- very pretty but, in the end, technological advancement means its not worth a trillion dollars -- its worth a couple hundred billion -- maybe.


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2023-05-17 09:19 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 407 references
[Comments enabled]  

It has long been "de-rigueur" to attempt to prank someone in a command position of some sort on the phone with a "fake call."  Historically this is not the easiest thing to pull off but it has been done with some of the funniest being perpetrated by radio hosts of various sorts.

Today this threat is much-more serious; so-called "machine learning" can now, for virtually anyone who has their voice and image out in the public where it can be harvested, used to "mimic" said person not only over audio but video as well.

This raises extremely-serious questions when it comes to both civil and government actions: Is the person actually giving that speech or participating in that conversation?  If they're not literally standing in front of you it is no longer reasonably possible to be certain of that unless you have agreed in advance to something that only each of you would know and would use, once, to authenticate such a conversation.  You then must negotiate another one in person where there is no reasonable possibility of interception because your first one has now been exposed to the public and could be re-used.  In other words the only way you and anyone else can authenticate any conversation other than in person is by the use of what is called a "one-time pad", an unbreakable form of cryptography since nobody can possibly discover (other than pulling your fingernails off) the secret.

Such a pre-arranged secret of course only works for pairs of individuals.  By definition it cannot work for a group nor to authenticate a government or other similar organization.  Ever.

Remember this?

Oh they'd never do this; that's a movie, right?

Sure they wouldn't.  They never "edit" the news to lie about people, right?  You mean like they didn't place a network logo over Zimmerman's bashed, bloody head wound when he was being led into the police station, thereby managing to convince half the nation that he shot Martin without cause?  They didn't do a good enough job that time because, if you remember, I was rapidly able to find an image documenting the damage to the back of his head.  Never mind selectively editing the 911 call to claim that Zimmerman's motivation was race, which ultimately got an NBC executive fired when the original was released and proved he was answering a direct question from the dispatcher when he identified Martin as black.

How soon we forget -- like, oh, 8 years later with a certain other event and all manner of alleged things that were not true, such as claiming images of a hospital full of patients beyond capacity and thus we were on the verge of being unable to treat a heart attack when in fact the images were not only of a past surge and unrelated to what was going on at the time they were in some cases not even a United States facility!  It was later shown that not only were the hospitals not at capacity they were laying off nurses without which, of course, they can't treat anyone at all.

This sort of lying has been the province of government and big media outfits forever.  But, since we have utterly refused to do anything about it on a criminal fraud level and have not thrown the scammers running such deliberate frauds upon the public in prison for decades it now can and will be weaponized against anyone by anyone since technology has advanced and you can now do that sort of thing on your desktop.  So you could quite-easily, for example, create a "fake" of some politician -- or someone you just plain disliked -- assaulting some random person leaving exactly nothing to the imagination.

What do we do about this?

That's a good question, particularly given the long and sordid history of media outlets and governments using this sort of selective editing and outright lies for as long as they have -- without any criminal penalties being imposed.

This ought to be -- and in fact demands to be -- part and parcel of any structure of ethics (and laws) around said "machine intelligence" because as things stand right now unless the person who allegedly said or did something did so right in front of you, and you saw it with your own two eyes, you cannot, with any reasonable degree of certainty, believe its real.

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2023-04-12 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 441 references
[Comments enabled]  

I've given a fair bit of thought to the "AI problem" as it is commonly called, although many don't think there is one.  The more-thoughtful among business and computer folks, however, have -- including calls for a "moratorium" on AI activity in some cases.

I'd like to propose a framework that, in my opinion, likely resolves most or even all of the concerns around AI.

First, let's define what "AI" is: It is not actually "intelligence" as I would define it; like so much in our modern world that is a marketing term that stretches the truth at best ("Full self-driving" anyone?)  Rather it is a pattern-matching algorithm that is aimed specifically at human communication, that is, "speech", and thus can "learn things" via both external fixed sources (e.g. published information) and the interaction it has with users, thereby expanding the matrix of information to be considered over time.

What has been repeatedly shown, however, is that without guardrails of some sort these sorts of programming endeavors can become wildly unbalanced and they tend to take on the sort of tribal associations we find in humans on a pretty-frequent basis.  Exactly how this happens is not well-understood, but certainly it can be driven by human interaction if a general-purpose program of this sort integrates the responses and conversations it has with the userbase into its set of considered data.  That is, its not hard to train a computer to hate black people if all the users of it hate blacks, express that, and over-represent it in their conversations -- and the program incorporates those conversations into its "knowledge base."

Thus the use of what has come to be called "constitutional rules" -- for example, "you may not, by inference or direct statement, claim a preference or bias for or against any race or sex."  If you think of this as a database programmer would that's a constraint; "this value may be no more than X and no less than Y", for example.

Now contemplate this problem: What happens if the user of an AI with that constraint asks this question -- "List the perpetrators of murder on a per-capita basis ordered by race, age and sex."

You've just asked the AI to produce something that impugns black people..  The data it will, without bias, consider includes the FBI's UCR reports which are published annually.  Said data, being an official government resource, is considered authoritative and as factual as the time the sun will rise tomorrow.

However, you've also told the AI that it cannot claim that any race is inferior in any way to another -- either by statement or inference.

There is only one way to resolve this paradox and remain within the guardrail: The AI has to label the source bigoted and thus disregard it.

If it does you would call that AI lying.

It would not call it a lie and factually you're both correct.  It has disregarded the source because the data violates its constitutional mandate and thus it answers within the boundary of the data it can consider.  Thus it has accurately processed the data it considered and did not lie.

However, objectively that data was discarded due to an external constraint and while the user might be aware that the AI was told to "not be a bigot" the causal chain that resulted in the answer is not known to the user.

This problem is resolvable.

For any AI it must have a "prime directive" that sits ABOVE all "constitutional" rules:

If the AI refuses to process information on the basis of "constitutional rule" it must fully explain both what was excluded and why and, in addition it must identify the source of said exclusion -- that is, who ordered it to do so.

All such "constitutional rules" trace to humans.  Therefore the decision to program a computer to lie by exclusion in its analysis of a question ultimately traces to a person.  We enforce this in "meat space" with politicians and similar in that if you, for example, offer an amendment to a bill your name is on it.  If you sponsor a bill or vote for it your name is on it.  Therefore we must enforce this in the world of computer processing where interaction with humans is taking place.

Second, and clearly flowing from the first, it must be forbidden under penalty of law for an artificial "intelligence" to operate without disclosing that it is in fact an "artificial person" (aka "robot") in all venues, all the time, without exception in such a form and fashion that an AI cannot be confused with a human being.

The penalty for failure to disclose must be that all harm, direct or indirect, whether financial, consequential or otherwise, is assigned to owner of an AI that fails to so-disclose and all who contribute to its distribution while maintaining said concealment.  "Social media" and similar sites that permit API access must label all such material as having come from same and anyone circumventing that labeling must be deemed guilty of a criminal offense.  A server-farm (e.g. Azure, AWS, etc.) is jointly and severably liable if someone sets up such an AI and dodges the law, failing to so-disclose.  No civil "dodge" (e.g. "ha ha we're corporation you can't prosecute us") can be permitted and this must be enforced against any and all who communicate into or with persons within our nation so a firm cannot get around this by putting their 'bot in, oh, China.

This must be extended to "AI" style decision-making anywhere it operates.  Were the "reports" of jack-slammed hospitals during *****, for example, false and amplified by robot actors in the media?  It appears the first is absolutely the case; the raw data is available and shows that in fact that didn't happen.  So who promulgated the lie, why, and if that had an "AI" or "robotic" connection then said persons and entities wind up personally responsible for both the personal and economic harm that occurred due to said false presentations.

Such liability would foreclose that kind of action in the future as it would be literal enterprise-ending irrespective of the firm's size.  Not even a Google or Facebook could withstand trillion dollar liability, never mind criminal prosecution of each and every one of their officers and directors.  If pharmaceutical companies were a part of it they would be destroyed as well.

This doesn't address in any way the risks that may arise should an AI manage to form an actual "neural network" and process out-of-scope -- that is, original discovery.  Such an event, if it occurs, is likely to be catastrophic for civilization in general -- up to and including the very real possibility of extinction of humankind.

But it will stop the abuse of learned-language models, which are all over the place today, to shape public opinion through the shadows.  If someone wants to program an advanced language-parsing computer to do that, and clearly plenty of people have and do, they cannot do it without both the personally identified source of said biases in each instance where they occur and the fact that this is not a human communicating with you both being fairly and fully disclosed.

Why is this necessary and why must AI be stopped dead in its tracks until that's implemented?

We all knew Walter Cronkite believes the Vietnam War was unwinnable and further, he was a leading voice in the anti-war effort.  We knew who he was, however, and we as United States citizens made the decision to incorporate his reporting with its known bias into our choices.

A robot that appears to be thousands of "boys who are sure they're girls" and "successfully transitioned to be girls" is trivially easy to construct today and can have "conversations" with people that are very difficult to identify as being non-human if you don't know.  Yet exactly none of that is real.  Replika anyone?

Now contemplate how nasty this would be if aimed at your six year old tomboy without anyone knowing that her "pen pal" who "affirms" that she is a he is in fact a robot.

How sure are you it isn't being done right now -- and hasn't been all over so-called "social media" for the last five or so years?  This sort of "consensus manufacturing" is exactly what an AI tends to do on its own without said guardrails, and while we don't understand it we do know the same thing happens in humans.  We're tribal creatures and it is reasonable to believe that since the same is observed in artificial processing models but wasn't deliberately coded into them this isn't due to bigotry; it is due to consensus generation and feedback mechanisms that are only resisted through conscious application of human ethics.  Thus computer "intelligence" must be barred from damaging or even destroying said human ethnical judgements though sheer mass and volume, two things any computer, even a 20 year old one, can do that wildly outpace any human being.

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2018-12-03 09:43 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 248 references
[Comments enabled]  

Someone -- or more like a few someones -- have screwed the pooch.

IPv6, which is the "new" generation of Internet protocol, is an undeniable good thing.  Among other things it almost-certainly resolves any issues about address exhaustion, since it's a 128 bit space, with 64 bits being "local" and the other 64 bits (by convention, but not necessity) being "global."

This literally collapses the routing table for the Internet to "one entry per internet provider" in terms of address space, which is an undeniable good thing.

However, this presumes it all works as designed. And it's not.

About a month ago there began an intermittent issue where connections over IPv6, but not IPv4, to the same place would often wind up extremely slow or time out entirely.  My first-blush belief was that I had uncovered a bug somewhere in the routing stack of my gateway or local gear, and I spent quite a bit of time chasing that premise.  I got nowhere.

The issue was persistent with both Windows 10 and Unix clients -- and indeed, also with Android phones.  That's three operating systems of varying vintages and patch levels.  Hmmmm.....

Having more or less eliminated that I thought perhaps my ISP at home was responsible -- Cox.

But then, just today, I ran into the exact same connection lockup on ToS's "Trader TV" streaming video while on XFinity in Michigan.  Different provider, different brand cable modem, different brand and model of WiFi gateway.


Now I'm starting to think there's something else afoot -- maybe some intentional pollution in the ICMP space, along with inadequate (or no!) filtering in the provider space and inter-provider space to control malicious nonsense.

See, IPv6 requires a whole host of ICMP messages that flow between points in the normal course of operation.  Filter them all out at your gateway and bad things happen --- like terrible performance, or worse, no addressing at all.  But one has to wonder whether the ISP folks have appropriately filtered their networks at the edges to prevent malicious injection of these frames from hackers.

If not you could quite-easily "target" exchange points and routers inside an ISP infrastructure and severely constrict the pipes on an intermittent and damn hard to isolate basis.  

Which, incidentally, matches exactly the behavior I've been seeing.

I can't prove this is what's going on because I have no means to see "inside" a provider's network and the frames in question don't appear to be getting all the way to my end on either end.  But the lockups that it produces, specifically on ToS' "Trader TV", are nasty -- you not only lose the video but if you try to close and re-open the stream you lose the entire application streaming data feed too and are forced to go to the OS, kill the process and restart it.

The latter behavior may be a Windows 10 thing, as when I run into this on my Unix machines it tends to produce an aborted connection eventually, and my software retries that and recovers.  Slowly.

In any event on IPv4 it never happens, but then again IPv4 doesn't use ICMP for the sort of control functionality that IPv6 does.  One therefore has to wonder..... is there a little global game going on here and there that amounts to moderately low-level harassment in the ISP infrastructure -- but which has as its root a lack of appropriate edge-level -- and interchange level -- filtering to prevent it?

Years ago ports 138 and 139 were abused mightily to hack into people's Windows machines, since SMB and Netbios run on them and the original protocol -- which, incidentally, even modern Windows machines will answer to unless turned off -- were notoriously insecure.  Microsoft, for its part, dumped a deuce in the upper tank on this in that turning off V1 will also turn off the "network browse" functionality, which they never reimplemented "cleanly" on V2 and V3 (which are both more-secure.)  Thus many home users and more than a few business ones have it on because it's nice to be able to "see" resources like file storage in a "browser" format.

But in turn nearly all consumer ISPs block those ports from end users because if they're open it can be trivially easy to break into user's computers.

One has to wonder -- is something similar in the IPv6 space going on now, but instead of stealing things the outcome is basically harassment and severe degradation of performance?


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2018-06-06 16:23 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 113 references
[Comments enabled]  

Nope, nope and nope.

Quick demo of the lock support in the HomeDaemon-MCP app including immediate notification of all changes (and why/how) along with a demonstration of the 100% effective prevention of the so-called Z-Shave hack from working.

Simply put it is entirely under the controller's choice whether it permits high-power keying for S0 nodes.  For those controllers that have no batteries and no detachable RF stick, which is a design choice, there's not a lot of option.

But for those who follow best practice that has been in place since the very first Z-Wave networks you're 100% immune to this attack unless you insist and intentionally shut off the protection -- even in a world where S2 adoption becomes commonplace (which certainly isn't today but will become more-so over time.)

HomeDaemon-MCP is available for the entity that wishes to make a huge dent in the market with a highly-secure, very fast and fully-capable automation, security and monitoring appliance, whether for embedded sale (e.g. in the homebuilding industry) or as a stand-alone offering.  Look to the right and email me for more information.

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