2023 Annual Public Lecture in Philosophy

Last week I gave the 2023 Annual Public Lecture in Philosophy. You can Watch a Recording here. The talk was on The Eliza Effect: Data Ethics for Machine Learning.

I started the talk with the case of Kevin Roose’s interaction with Sydney (Microsoft’s name for Bing Chat) where it ended up telling Roose that it loved him. From there I discussed some of the reasons we should be concerned with the latest generation of chatbots. I then looked at the ethics of LAION-5B as an example of how we can audit the ethics of projects. I ended with some reflections on what an ethics of AI could be.

Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter

We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.

The Future of Life Institute is calling on AI labs to pause with a letter signed by over 1000 people (including myself), Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter – Future of Life Institute. The letter asks for a pause so that safety protocols can be developed,

AI labs and independent experts should use this pause to jointly develop and implement a set of shared safety protocols for advanced AI design and development that are rigorously audited and overseen by independent outside experts. These protocols should ensure that systems adhering to them are safe beyond a reasonable doubt.

This letter to AI labs follows a number of essays and opinions that maybe we are going too fast and should show restraint. This in the face of the explosive interest in large language models after ChatGPT.

  • Gary Marcus wrote an essay in his substack on “AI risk ≠ AGI risk” arguing that just because we don’t have AGI doesn’t mean there isn’t risk associated with the Mediocre AI systems we do have.
  • Yuval Noah Harari has an opinion in the New York Times with the title, “You Can Have the Blue Pill or the Red Pill, and We’re Out of Blue Pills” where he talks about the dangers of AIs manipulating culture.

We have summoned an alien intelligence. We don’t know much about it, except that it is extremely powerful and offers us bedazzling gifts but could also hack the foundations of our civilization. We call upon world leaders to respond to this moment at the level of challenge it presents. The first step is to buy time to upgrade our 19th-century institutions for a post-A.I. world and to learn to master A.I. before it masters us.

It is worth wondering whether the letter will have an effect, and if it doesn’t, why we can’t collectively slow down and safely explore AI.

The Story of Class Struggle, America’s Most Popular Marxist Board Game

Released in 1978, a socialist alternative to Monopoly sold over 200,000 copies and was translated into multiple languages.

Mental Floss has a nice piece of floss with The Story of Class Struggle, America’s Most Popular Marxist Board Game. Class Struggle, the board game, was developed by a political science professor, Bertell Ollman, who wanted an alternative to Monopoly, which ironically was based on the Landlord Game which had been originally designed to show the evils of property. Class Struggle was sold to Avalon Hill who eventually discontinued it. It looks like you can find copies on eBay.

On Making in the Digital Humanities

On Making in the Digital Humanities fills a gap in our understanding of digital humanities projects and craft by exploring the processes of making as much as the products that arise from it. The volume draws focus to the interwoven layers of human and technological textures that constitute digital humanities scholarship.

On Making in the Digital Humanities is finally out from UCL Press. The book honours the work of John Bradley and those in the digital humanities who share their scholarship through projects. Stéfan Sinclair and I first started work on it years ago and were soon joined by Juliane Nyhan and later Alexandra Ortolja-Baird. It is a pleasure to see it finished.

I co-wrote the Introduction with Nyhan and wrote a final chapter on “If Voyant then Spyral: Remembering Stéfan Sinclair: A discourse on practice in the digital humanities.” Stéfan passed during the editing of this.

Signing of MOU

See https://twitter.com/PTJCUA1/status/1630853467605721089

Yesterday I was part of a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Agreement between Ritsumeikan University and the University of Alberta. I and the President of the University of Alberta (Bill Flanagan) signed on behalf of U of A. The MOU described our desire to build on our collaborations around Replaying Japan. We hope to build collaborations around artificial intelligence, games, learning, and digital humanities. KIAS and the AI4Society signature area have been supporting this research collaboration.

Today (March 2nd, 2023) we are having a short conference at Ritsumeikan that included a panel about our collaboration, at which I talked, and a showcase of research in game studies at Ritsumeikan.

Los chatbots pueden ayudarnos a redescubrir la historia del diálogo

Con el lanzamiento de sofisticados chatbots como ChatGPT de OpenAI, el diálogo eficaz entre humanos e inteligencia artificial se ha vuelto

A Spanish online magazine of ideas, Dialektika, has translated my Conversation essay on ChatGPT and dialogue. See Los chatbots pueden ayudarnos a redescubrir la historia del diálogo. Nice to see the ideas circulating.

How Deepfake Videos Are Used to Spread Disinformation – The New York Times

For the first time, A.I.-generated personas, often used for corporate trainings, were detected in a state-aligned information campaign — opening a new chapter in online manipulation.

The New York Times has a story about how How Deepfake Videos Are Used to Spread Disinformation. The videos are actually from a service Synthesia which allows you to generate videos of talking heads from transcripts that you prepare. They have different professionally acted avatars and their technology will then generate the video of your text being presented. This is supposed to be used for quickly generating training videos (without paying actors), but someone used it for disinformation.

Destroy All Monsters

There has recently been some fuss around the change in the Open Gaming License of Dungeons & Dragons. So here is a nice story about D&D and its history, Destroy All Monsters.

D&D is a game for people who like rules: in order to play even the basic game, you had to make sense of roughly twenty pages of instructions, which cover everything from “Adjusting Ability Scores” (“Magic-users and clerics can reduce their strength scores by 3 points and add 1 to their prime requisite”) to “Who Gets the First Blow?” (“The character with the highest dexterity strikes first”). In fact, as I wandered farther into the cave, and acquired the rulebooks for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, I found that there were rules for everything: … It would be a mistake to think of these rules as an impediment to enjoying the game. Rather, the rules are a necessary condition for enjoying the game, and this is true whether you play by them or not. The rules induct you into the world of D&D; they are the long, difficult scramble from the mouth of the cave to the first point where you can stand up and look around.

All the (open) world’s a stage: how the video game Fallout became a backdrop for live Shakespeare shows

Free to roam through the post-apocalyptic game, one intrepid group has taken to performing the Bard. They have found an intent new audience, as well as the odd mutant scorpion

The Guardian has a nice story today about a Shakespeare troupe who are staging plays in Fallout 76All the (open) world’s a stage: how the video game Fallout became a backdrop for live Shakespeare shows.

It seems to me that this is related to the various activities that were staged in Second Life and other environments. It also has connections to the Machinima phenomenon where people use 3D environments like games to stage acts that are filmed.

Of course the problem with Fallout 76 is the performers can get attacked during a performance.