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Important If True 52: "Yeah, You Email It."

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Important If True 52:

Important If True 52


"Yeah, You Email It."
A show that attempts to answers the real questions of the week, that guarantees to leave you satisfied if not any more informed. This week: Is an AI still an AI if it's just a guy with an email account? Is it still a home assistant if it just laughs at you? Which is easier to bait: an AI home assistant or a Canadian? These questions and more—answered in the manner you least expect.

Discussed: Canadian Baiting, Hometown Baiting, New Zealand medical supercomputer AI "Zach," bears: just people in bear costumes?, going blockchain crazy, Long Blockchain Corp, Alexa randomly laughing at people, surveilling yourself to capture precious memories, telling your first joke, tech billionaires uploading themselves into the cloud, The Feds Have Martin Shkreli's Wu-Tang Album, file copy vs file move operations, why can't the Wu-Tang album be released by FOIA, unsolicited factoid about Oreos, digging deeper into the infinitely-improving immortal bottle of wine

Send us your questions at questions@importantiftrue.com. If you enjoyed this and would like to subscribe to an ad-free feed, please consider supporting Idle Thumbs by backing our Patreon.

Chris' Endorsement: Party game One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Jake's Endorsement: Max Krieger's Twitter threads on the Metreon and other interesting urban/commercial design

Nick's Endorsement: Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier

Sponsored By: Quip electric toothbrushes (your first brush head refill free), Planetarium comic miniseries on Kickstarter

 

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This is a very good episode of Important if True. Nick did a really good job re-recording his dialogue this week, it was even harder to tell that it was a dub.

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The reveal that the maybe-definitely fake AI is run by a millennial who has somehow tricked Boomers into working unpaid internships for him made me instantly like this guy 10000% more.

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The zach thing is crazy. So, these people have not only cracked the code on natural language processing (which is already extremely far-fetched in its own right) but they appeared have developed a general purpose human-level ai, which is basically science fiction. No ai system in the world trains based on written notes about how it's doing. I am convinced that this is an investment scam.

 

Also

Quote

Most people are using neural networks, and that is all very well – and has advantage of being portable, reproducible, and you can run it on a Windows box. But this runs on its own special hardware. It has its own custom made hardware – custom silicon – which is designed for natural language processing.

this is nonsense.

 

Trying to learn more about the organization, their telephone company doesn't have any rates or services. Their charity doesn't appear to have actually funded any initiatives. Looking at their filings, the charity doesn't do anything except own their other companies, and accumulate money. This is 100% a scam.

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7 hours ago, your name here said:

The zach thing is crazy. So, these people have not only cracked the code on natural language processing (which is already extremely far-fetched in its own right) but they appeared have developed a general purpose human-level ai, which is basically science fiction. No ai system in the world trains based on written notes about how it's doing. I am convinced that this is an investment scam.

 

Also

this is nonsense.

 

Trying to learn more about the organization, their telephone company doesn't have any rates or services. Their charity doesn't appear to have actually funded any initiatives. Looking at their filings, the charity doesn't do anything except own their other companies, and accumulate money. This is 100% a scam.

 

This follow up article came out a few days ago so I sent it off but just fyi:

 

The Mystery of Zach the Miracle AI, Continued: It all just gets Terribler

 

It goes into their share offers, a dubious valuation claim, Dr. Seddon Smith, Trustee Member gets a bit defensive, we learn perhaps unsurprisingly that Albi is a bit of a prick, and we hear about Zach's other identity, Hustle a virtual solicitor avatar. 

 

For the record I don't think this person Albi Whale or his Dad, David Whale are particularly well known in NZ, their ISP isn't a major one, Terrible might have been a company group I've heard of before but not with any importance.

 

Anyway I'm super keen to hear how it turns out; the journalist investigating this story is really good at bringing weird situations to light as well as other business bullshit

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Frictional Games' SOMA also deals with copying consciousness fairly extensively.

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On 3/10/2018 at 9:26 AM, RubixsQube said:

This is a very good episode of Important if True. Nick did a really good job re-recording his dialogue this week, it was even harder to tell that it was a dub.

I dunno it felt pretty artificial, like he didn't put quite as much effort into re-recording his portion this time. I think next week they should record live, it's starting to get uncanny. You can really hear the lack of a human soul at this point.

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The Zach and Hannah "AI" that is maybe just people made me think really hard about the 18th Century Chess Playing man-like robot named "The Turk". (Spoiler alert: It was just a guy in a robot suit)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turk

 

I suppose we've always shoved a human in there when computers weren't able to get where we wanted to be, and now Amazon is also doing that. 

https://www.mturk.com/

Amazon's Mechanical Turk service lets you crowdsource repetitive tasks that computers aren't able to do well or accurately with micropayments!

Need a robot to listen to your podcasts to update your metadata based on new criteria? Amazon's Mechanical Turk service is here for you!

 

There's also an episode of Planet Money dedicated to all of this, if you don't want to click on any links... then you'll click on this link i guess. Or not. It's your party.

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/01/30/382657657/episode-600-the-people-inside-your-machine

 

Links!

 

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I also love the Wirecutter, at least in theory.  In practice only about half of the things I get based on their recommendations turn out that good.  That being said, I completely agree with Nick about the Coway air purifier.  That thing is great.  I like to cook but the design of my house means that most of the fumes and smoke from my kitchen go up the stairs where the main house smoke detector sits.  I used to set it off all the time, but I put one of the air purifiers at the top of the stairs and now I hardly ever have it go off unless I really burned something.

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Somewhat related to the particular content of this episode: I feel like the lyrics to Andrew WK's song "Break the Curse" really captures the many axes of the Idle Thumbs podcast. Curses, tricks, and scams are fundamental elements at this point.

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The discussion around Martin Shkreli and uploading consciousness to the cloud to be "digitally immortal" is basically the entire premise around the book Altered Carbon (which is also a Netflix series now).

 

I am simultaneously saddened by the "Zach" news story (which was quite widely read here in NZ) and enthused to know that someone else from New Zealand cares enough about IIT to submit reader mail. I hear you, Chris.

 

On 12/03/2018 at 3:10 PM, Mawd said:

The Mystery of Zach the Miracle AI, Continued: It all just gets Terribler

 

For the record I don't think this person Albi Whale or his Dad, David Whale are particularly well known in NZ, their ISP isn't a major one, Terrible might have been a company group I've heard of before but not with any importance.

 

Was it you who sent in the article?

I had also never heard of either of the Whales or any of their companies before this episode. Honestly after watching the video from last year on Stuff, and seeing the way they talk about their business ventures, I am actually thinking less that this is pure scam from Albi and more in the direction of a delusional disorder or bipolar.

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I nominate "Canadectdotes" as the name for stories about Nick's adventures in Canada where he somehow brings out the rudeness lying dormant in the Canadian national temperament. 

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If wine "notes" are comparisons to flavors, odors, or even concepts used to describe aspects of a wine's flavor, and they were doubling every year, then our endless generations of sommeliers would all too soon run out of things in the universe to compare to the flavor of our exponentially improving wine. Eventually, they would simply be saying "another incomparable, indescribable note; another incomparable, indescribable note; another incomparable, indescribable note..." over and over, and their mouths would become specialized for saying that one phrase as quickly as humanly possible.

 

Possibly a particularly cheeky sommelier descendant would take it upon himself to start simply saying "another note; another note; another note..." but even this enormous reduction in the total number of syllables would be completely surpassed by the doubling in 2 or at most 3 years later.

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Also, is there a name for when you have no idea how to spell a word like "sommeliers"--and you guess--and then you can't remember whether or not the box you're typing in has automatic spellcheck so you have to go to another tab and use Google to figure out whether or not you in fact accidentally spelled it right?  Because I just did that thing.

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7 hours ago, Spud said:

I am simultaneously saddened by the "Zach" news story (which was quite widely read here in NZ) and enthused to know that someone else from New Zealand cares enough about IIT to submit reader mail. I hear you, Chris.

 

Was it you who sent in the article?

I had also never heard of either of the Whales or any of their companies before this episode. Honestly after watching the video from last year on Stuff, and seeing the way they talk about their business ventures, I am actually thinking less that this is pure scam from Albi and more in the direction of a delusional disorder or bipolar.

 

I shared the article in the forum thread for the previous episode but I think someone else emailed it in as well which is pretty neat.

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19 hours ago, Urthman said:

If wine "notes" are comparisons to flavors, odors, or even concepts used to describe aspects of a wine's flavor, and they were doubling every year, then our endless generations of sommeliers would all too soon run out of things in the universe to compare to the flavor of our exponentially improving wine. Eventually, they would simply be saying "another incomparable, indescribable note; another incomparable, indescribable note; another incomparable, indescribable note..." over and over, and their mouths would become specialized for saying that one phrase as quickly as humanly possible.

 

Possibly a particularly cheeky sommelier descendant would take it upon himself to start simply saying "another note; another note; another note..." but even this enormous reduction in the total number of syllables would be completely surpassed by the doubling in 2 or at most 3 years later.

 

I'm always fascinated by the scale of things like this. I think the sommelier would simply have to come up with ever more elaborate descriptions of the wine. Oxford Dictionaries suggests there are a lot of words in English: "If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million." This includes all technical jargon, dialects and the kitchen sink. It may be a bit weird to describe wine with some of these terms, but considering the geniefic origins of the wine and its fairly abnormal properties, it may indeed be perfectly natural and immediately obvious upon consumption that wine has a hint of amphibology.

 

How long would it take for the sommelier to describe the wine? Let's be very generous, and say the sommelier is a true double speed-youtube playback -reciter, and can average 10 words a second. This would give us 600 words a minute, a bit shy of one million words a day and just a bit over 315 million words a year from a non-stop no sleep recitation. One minute would suffice for the first ten years, one hour for the first 16 and the 29th year would be the last year when there is enough time to describe the wine in a year. With one word notes. 24 hours a day. However, the generous 750 000 words of English language can only take us up to year 20. After that we have construct multi-word descriptions. However, with descriptive two word combinations like valuable shaggy and invite circle we can describe the wine for 40 years. Reciting all possible 8 word combinations will take us to the very least to the point where all the protons in the wine and the sommelier have decayed. A 160 year old wine would require that long a description.

 

But wait! Why should we only have one sommelier for such a prestigious wine. An Alexa takes roughly 10 000 square millimeters. You could fit 100 million in one square kilometer, and roughly 60 trillion on the surface of the state of Texas. This army of Echos could describe the 75 year old wine within one year. This would increase the US electricity consumption by 10% from its 2016 value. Assuming the Echos would just magically appear there.

 

Also, how does the sommelier the know what the wine tastes like?

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6 hours ago, unimural said:

 However, with descriptive two word combinations like valuable shaggy and invite circle we can describe the wine for 40 years. Reciting all possible 8 word combinations will take us to the very least to the point where all the protons in the wine and the sommelier have decayed.

 

My argument was that a valid wine "note" needs to be a comparison between the flavor component in question and a thing or concept that somehow resembles the flavor in the mind of the sommelier.  "A hint of a summer breeze" or "the flavor of falling in love" would be valid notes, but nonsense like "a note of invite circle" would not.  Therefore the sommelier would run out of unique ways to describe each note much, much sooner than you estimate.  Your "valuable shaggy" and "invite circle" are examples of flavors I suggested would have to be listed as "another incomparable, indescribable note."

 

6 hours ago, unimural said:

Also, how does the sommelier the know what the wine tastes like?

 

I think, by definition, the sommelier for this wine is someone who is able to describe what it tastes like.  If we mention such a person (or series of persons) we have to be assuming magical knowledge from the genie or a series of identical bottles of wine which the sommelier tastes before offering the description.

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12 hours ago, Urthman said:

 

My argument was that a valid wine "note" needs to be a comparison between the flavor component in question and a thing or concept that somehow resembles the flavor in the mind of the sommelier.  "A hint of a summer breeze" or "the flavor of falling in love" would be valid notes, but nonsense like "a note of invite circle" would not.  Therefore the sommelier would run out of unique ways to describe each note much, much sooner than you estimate.  Your "valuable shaggy" and "invite circle" are examples of flavors I suggested would have to be listed as "another incomparable, indescribable note."

 

I agree, I merely like the idea that the wine is so complex that it alters your consciousness to the degree that nonsense makes total sense. And I suppose some shade of a positivist in me likes the idea of enumerating trillions of distinct sensations. And I like scope and scale, orders of magnitude and making oreos to the moon comparisons.

 

I did try to think about quantifying the human sense of smell. The types of molecules we smell/taste, and what kind of expansion in that would be required for the wine at which stages. Based on lazy googling we have 400 receptors going to a range of 1 trillion smells. Of course that pales very quickly with regards to the exponential taste growth the wine experiences, but with that resolution you'd obviously can get a lot of unique sequences. So what's really required is that the brain would dedicate much more of itself to interpreting these signals from the nose. And perhaps that's what the sommelier is.

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