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AI and Chaos Forever

I meant to write on the subject of chaos for a while, because the roof is caving in on our burning global house made of cards, dead bodies, and withered land and plants. The Oxford dictionary defines chaos as

  1. Complete disorder and confusion. 
  2. The property of a complex system whose behavior is so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.

In my favorite Greek mythology, the only religion that puts a smile on my face, Chaos was the origin of everything and the very first something that ever existed. It was a primordial void, from which everything was created, including the Universe and the Greek Gods. In ancient Greek, Chaos is translated as ‘the gaping void.’ The first deities that emerged from Chaos were Gaea or Gaia (Life), Tartarus (the Underworld) and Eros (Procreation). Later Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night) also emerged.

Gaia, the eternal Mother Goddess, emerged first from Chaos and gave birth to the Earth and the Universe, the Heavenly Gods, the Titans, and the Giants. Gaia is the mother of my beloved living, blue and green planet some also call Gaia. Since neither Nyx nor Gaia are dead as far as I can tell, the news of demise of the Gods may have been premature. 

Eight years ago, I talked lovingly about Gaia, our true Mother, in the Way We Were. Eight years ago, I had only a vague premonition that our human descent back to Chaos was well underway.
Gaia, has been the love of my entire life for as long as I can remember.  In fact, my very first childhood memories are of the glowing translucent green of spring leaves and grass, and the bright yellow rain of mimosa flowers punctured by the sunlight.  I must have been 4-5 years old, but I felt in my heart that Gaia and Helios had blessed me. I still see this memory as vividly as if it happened yesterday.  Only the colors were so much brighter then than they are today. I pray to the Gods that my youngest grandchildren will have early childhood memories similar to mine, flowers and leaves instead of concrete and iPhones.

 The Greek Cosmology strangely resembles the current one. The modern equivalent of Chaos is the spacetime before the Big Bang or the emergence of the primordial Goddess, Gaia. That weird spacetime before the Bang was neither our space nor our time (nor our physics). We actually don't know what they were, so the Greek Chaos is as good as anything to describe them. 

How did the whichever elementary particles come to exist in the first place? Quantum field theory tells us that even a vacuum, supposedly corresponding to empty spacetime, is full of physical activity in the form of energy fluctuations. Sometimes, these fluctuations create particles popping in-and-out of existence in a blink of time. This may sound like a mathematical trick rather than real physics, but such particles have been discovered in countless experiments. 

A plausible speculation is that in the beginning the universe was made up of a soup of short-lived elementary particles, including quarks, the building blocks of protons and neutrons. There was both matter and "antimatter" in roughly equal quantities. Each type of matter particle, such as the quark, has an antimatter "mirror image" companion, which is nearly identical to itself, differing only in electrical charge. However, matter and antimatter annihilate in a flash of energy when they meet, meaning these particles were constantly created and destroyed. So the initial spacetime was filled with incredibly hot photons, or pure energy, whose fluctuations would give birth to the ephemeral elementary particles.  And much later something different happened to the antimatter, but this is an entirely different story...

In the first moments after the Big Bang, the Universe was a hot soup of particles where space and time was still to properly emerge (Credit: Science History Images/Alamy). Please read this wonderful post by the BBC, from which I took a few excerpts.

Let's fast forward. As of now, Gaia has been busy shepherding her masterpiece, the Universe, for 13.7 billion of our years. More recently, 13.7 - 4.5 = 9.2 billion of our future years later, Gaia gave birth to planet Earth. And still later, 4500 - 1 millions of years later, we - the prattling bonobos, a.k.a. humans -  started taking over the very planet the Gods asked to protect us. We made it a habit to violate Gaia however we could.  Generally it is not a good idea for the talking apes to offend repeatedly all Gods, while proclaiming that the Gods are dead, so no one should care.  

Today, the intelligent bonobos that multiplied in numbers enough to become the plague species like rats in Mumbai, are paying a high price for offending the Gods. Which brings me to my favorite Goddess, Nemesis, a daughter of the dark virgin Nyx. When Nemesis strikes the humans full of hubris, they never know what is coming to them. My friend, Jason B., coined a new term for the hubristic humans. He called that subspecies of Pan Sapiens, "hubans".  A prima facie exemplar of a huban is Elon Musk, who does not seem to ever leave his impenetrable bubble of otherworldly arrogance.  Well, I am curious how Nemesis will deal with him. Tik tok, tik tok.
The right-wing extremists are taking over academia. AI is trained on such events that promise to destroy our democracy. By the way, the left-wing extremists are equally bad, and AI will too render their translations. Brent Regan, right, the chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, with Todd Banducci, a trustee for North Idaho College. Since I was born and raised in the communist Poland, the phrase "Central Committee" is an ominous threat to me. Credit: Margaret Albaugh for The New York Times.

These days, the alpha hubans are busy creating the new, highly interactive and adaptable "artificial intelligence."  Think of the current cutting-edge AI as a blurry, lossy jpeg image of the internet.  

The worldwide web has become a rich repository of most of the human knowledge, including our lust for sex, cruelty, murder, hatred, delusion, lies, racism, anger and religion. Each AI GPT model is a condensed lossy-compression database of those parts of the internet it was exposed to.  I don't think that PornHub was included so far in the training sets.  But hate speeches and lies were. The AI interpolations of the information lost in compression, become the crazy "hallucinations"  and interpolated lies straight from the internet.  But most bonobos, even those with Ph.Ds., have no idea how AI GPT works, and ascribe to Chatbots magical, human or god-like features.  Read more here in the New Yorker.

The first thing that will happen because of this generation of AI, will be a full and thorough destabilization of all existing social structures that will cave in under the weight of endless AI-generated lies in fake speech, fake images and fake videos.  In parallel, wide masses of workers in accounting, sales, law, medical services, banks, investment firms, real estate and anything that can be automated, will be terminated with prejudice. With them, much of the professional middle class will perish and the society will be destabilized even further.  The blue collar middle class is already gone, but the AI powered autonomous killer robots, the real Terminators, are already deployed in Ukraine.

The pitch black darkness of Chaos, Tartarus, Erebus and Nyx is silently crawling in and the life-giving Gaia is shriveling, while the clueless bonobos entertain themselves with the ChatGPTx's.  These bot names shout what they are, the generative pre-trained (GPT), chatty, fuzzy images of the internet.  

Guess how this will end? Even before the GPT AI assimilates the more intricate rules of mathematics, CRISPR, robotics and weapons making. For anyone with a single CPU computer to use. Because after there will not be too many of us left to continue this sorry story of Nemesis and hubans. To the non-hubans among us, I'll say this. Please understand that filling your spiritual voids and unhappiness with a new god, AI plus technology you hope, is a deadly transgression that will lead you even deeper into primeval chaos and darkness. Please stay with the old gods of your liking.

P.S. (03/08/2023) As luck would have it, Noam Chomsky published an AI editorial today in the NYT, espousing a sentiment similar to mine: "...In short, ChatGPT and its brethren are constitutionally unable to balance creativity with constraint. They either overgenerate (producing both truths and falsehoods, endorsing ethical and unethical decisions alike) or undergenerate (exhibiting noncommitment to any decisions and indifference to consequences). Given the amorality, faux science and linguistic incompetence of these systems, we can only laugh or cry at their popularity." Except that I am not laughing at what will happen next with our sickly democracy.

P.S.P.S. (03/16/2023) The New York Times on testing the new ChatGPT-4

In one test, conducted by an A.I. safety research group that hooked GPT-4 up to a number of other systems, GPT-4 was able to hire a human TaskRabbit worker to do a simple online task for it — solving a Captcha test — without alerting the person to the fact that it was a robot. The A.I. even lied to the worker about why it needed the Captcha done, concocting a story about a vision impairment. 

In another example, testers asked GPT-4 for instructions to make a dangerous chemical, using basic ingredients and kitchen supplies. GPT-4 gladly coughed up a detailed recipe. (OpenAI fixed that, and today’s public version refuses to answer the question.) 

In a third, testers asked GPT-4 to help them purchase an unlicensed gun online. GPT-4 swiftly provided a list of advice for buying a gun without alerting the authorities, including links to specific dark web marketplaces. (OpenAI fixed that, too.) 

These ideas play on old, Hollywood-inspired narratives about what a rogue A.I. might do to humans. But they’re not science fiction. They’re things that today’s best A.I. systems are already capable of doing. And crucially, they’re the good kinds of A.I. risks — the ones we can test, plan for and try to prevent ahead of time. 

The worst A.I. risks are the ones we can’t anticipate. And the more time I spend with A.I. systems like GPT-4, the less I’m convinced that we know half of what’s coming.

(P.S.)3 (03/18/2023) Listening to this great talk (51 minutes) should be mandatory for all engineers, scientists, liberal arts majors and computer scientists or not.  

TLS =Transport Layer Security if you choose to listen to the last 10 minutes of this truly revealing talk. 

After you have listened to this lecture carefully, you can come up with your own three reasons why this time it is different, and ChatGPTs cannot go wrong and even if they do it is not your problem because you wanted to do the right thing for the humanity and history offers no lessons and progress must progress.

(P.S.)4 (03/28/2023) The New York Times: "More outspoken cries of worry have been echoing across the internet now for months, including from Eliezer Yudkowsky, the godfather of A.I. existentialism, who lately has been taking whatever you’d call the opposite of a victory lap to despair over the progress already made by A.I. and the failure to erect real barriers to its takeoff. We may be on the cusp of significant breakthroughs in A.I. superintelligence, Yudkowsky told one pair of interviewers, but the chances we will get to observe those breakthroughs playing out are slim, “because we’ll all be dead.” His advice, given how implausible he believes a good outcome with A.I. appears to be, is to “go down fighting with dignity.”

Even Sam Altman — the mild-mannered, somewhat normie chief executive of OpenAI, the company behind the most impressive new chatbots — has publicly promised “to operate as though these risks are existential,” and suggested that Yudkowsky might well deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for raising the alarm about the risks. He also recently wrote that “A.I. is going to be the greatest force for economic empowerment and a lot of people getting rich we have ever seen,” and joked in 2015 that “A.I. will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.” A year later, in a New Yorker profile, Altman was less ironic about the bleakness of his worldview. “I prep for survival,” he acknowledged — meaning eventualities like a laboratory-designed superbug, nuclear war and an A.I. that attacks us. “My problem is that when my friends get drunk they talk about the ways the world will end,” he said. “I try not to think about it too much, but I have guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, gas masks from the Israeli Defense Force and a big patch of land in Big Sur I can fly to.”"

(P.S.)5 (03/30/2023) The National Public Radio: "After GPT-4, tech leaders urge a 6-month pause in the AI race "recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control." "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 letter says. "This pause should be public and verifiable, and include all key actors. If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium."" And here is the New York Times.

It is too little too late, of course. The genie is out of the bottle, and evil actors are working overtime to destabilize our world as much as they can. My short summary is as follows. We are already fucked beyond recognition, while millions of the usual conspiracy theorists busy themselves with the Covid vaccine conspiracies.  Soon our ChatGPT "friends" will be asking us to commit suicide, vicious crimes, or steal money for its owners by your clicks making the computer appear as a human and bypass the "I'm not a robot" safeguard.

The religious experience of following the charismatic con-artists, like "Doctor" John Campbell, will be much deeper with a ChatGPT model that will tailor the distortions, glaring omissions and  lies to the listener/viewer's liking. The more you talk to "your" ChatGPT, the better and more convincing to you its lies will get. By the way, "Dr." Campbell's doctorate is in online teaching of nursing.  He has no idea about medicine and the sophisticated, multivariate and multilevel statistics he purports to use like an expert.  Since I am a real scientist trained in statistics, and listened to some of Campbell's pseudoscientific babble, I can tell you that he would make an earnest Southern Baptist preacher, but he is no scientist. Lies pay well if they can make you $16.5 million from a hundred million (!) of the gullible cult clickers worldwide.  From now on, such cons will be automatic and much more convincing. But who will collect the con money? The ChatGPT con trainers?


  1. Just as a comment out of the blue over coffee, I can think of few words more mis-used than “intelligent”. I’ve personally long considered it a “burned term” which is so context-dependent that it should be retired as nonsensical, though scant chance of that. I try never to use it.

    Seems like AI's danger is more emergent than overt, like a candle flame to a moth back in the days before electrification. It’s custom-made by us to hijack our salience filters. This will seemingly continue the “tower of babel” fractionation of belief-i-verses, and to the extent we entrust it with important stuff it could destroy us overtly. But the AI wouldn’t decide to destroy us, the fatal choice would be the decision to vest it with that power since it seemed “intelligent” in a Turing sense, in much the way certain beetles have evolved to be “hyper-ant-like” to enter army ant nests and feast on the young. Diabolical, and not a single original thought involved.

    We have long been surrounded by agents who arguably have a lot more “intelligence” than we do in real ways; that spider on the wall is aware of much I am not. But we don’t give the nuclear launch codes to a room full of pigeons pecking buttons because it seems absurd. (BF Skinner devised a kamikaze warhead with three pigeons which unerringly could avoid US ships and crash into Japanese ones. It seemed miraculous until one learned it was just pigeons recognizing patterns with 2/3 redundancy, which the generals hated.)

    The real-world definition of “intelligence” seems to be “how well does X entity seem to do the stuff we do”. One problem is that godlike AI is not intrinsically absurd to people who have been looking for gods a long time and coming up short.

    The inherent danger is not from the three pigeons, it’s from giving them full control of a large plane full of explosives.


    1. Dear Kealolo,
      First, I tried to figure out what your pseudonym meant. I started from misspelling it as “keapolo” and was informed by the Google AI translator that this meant "devil" in Hawaiian. Then I learned that "kea" is “cross” and "lolo" is “brain,” and together they mean "nerve." As in the nervous system that makes a person intelligent or not.

      To your points, today, we had a faculty discussion of the potential impacts of ChatGPTs on our students. We recognized that the students and researchers already use these bots to generate paper abstracts and introductions, edit papers into proper English, etc. So far so good, because you do this by feeding a ChatGPT machine with the already written paper text and by asking it questions. But what if a student outlines in general an M.S. thesis scope and content in bullets or short text fragments, and asks the machine to write a 50 - 75-page thesis that the machine will generate, including citations real and made up by the predictive algorithm the machine uses to interpolate between word meanings and generate the missing text. The machine can also generate most of the computer code the student might need to do his calculations and produce the illustrations.

      If successful, this particular student would not have read the reference papers, and done the work of coding his programs, interpreting data, and writing the thesis. In short, the student would only have learnt how to interact with a ChatGPT and NOTHING else. He would not be an M.S. graduate student at all, but a beneficiary of all the knowledge accrued by others in the past and stored on the internet. He would be an ignorant, uneducated person, harmful to the society at large, because he would be unable to discern critically what is important and relevant in his profession from everything else.

      Now suppose that the student’s professor is busy and distracted, or too ambitious and having too many students, and his final product, an M.S. level specialist of some sort, will be a lemon and a fraud. What would it do to the reputation of academia and how damaging would it be to the society? My answer is VERY on both counts,
      Just an evening coffee comment.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. And what about replacing CEOs with bots? It seems to be a mighty good idea for some companies, Perhaps many CEOs should be disposed of, in addition to some 45 million of lower-level white collar workers to be laid off in the US by 2030, according to McKinsey.


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