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Artificial Intelligence — Science Fiction is Now Science Fact

YOWUSA.COM, 29-April-01
Steve Russell

A USAF unmanned surveillance drone with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 arrived in Australia recently.  Called Global Hawk, this jet-powered $750 million unmanned surveillance drone can fly at an altitude of 65,000 ft., with a much longer duration than manned aircraft.  The onboard computers that control this aircraft are highly sophisticated, and just a small step away from being artificially intelligent and autonomous. This may seem like science fiction, but the fact is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already woven into the very fabric of our society.  

Flight of The Global Hawk

Global HawkWhile this plane is supposedly remotely controlled, a clear progression would be to incorporate a form of AI into the on-board computers.  Civilian aircraft already have "auto-pilot" modes where they can fly themselves.  Since technologies within advanced aircraft like the U-2 remain highly classified, we can only speculate on what is possible with military forms of AI.

CNN, April 23 2001
Robot spy plane spans Pacific

After 23 hours and 20 minutes of continuous flight, the experimental unmanned spy plane Global Hawk landed successfully in Adelaide, South Australia, on Monday evening. 

In what was by far its longest flight yet, Global Hawk completed a 13,000 kilometer trip across the Pacific Ocean from Edwards Air Force Base in California to the Royal Australian Air Force base of Edinburgh. 

The plane was monitored and controlled for half its journey by US Air Force personnel at Edwards base before Australian based operators took over for the later half.

Unmanned planes are now a publicly proven possibility. All the military has to do is load it up with missiles and bombs, incorporate even current AI abilities, and you have yourself a world-class killing machine that can be sent to perform what was once human work. 

Scary speculation such as this characterises our historic fears of AI machines.  This foundation of fear has been progressively eroded away with promised glorified benefits, feel-good movies, and integrated usage into common computer software, in order to obtain popular public acceptance. Our original fears have remained behind these facades, gradually changing with each technological development.  Now in the 21st century, we are seeing for the first time, a reality that is as artificial as the intelligence that has created it. 

AI In Our Lives

There are two distinct areas where Artificial Intelligence (AI) is attacking the foundations of our easily definable society.  At the first front, AI is cleverly creeping into our everyday lives and gaining widespread acceptance from a public that does not have a complete understanding of what lies beneath the technology.  At the second front, we have a new breed of scientists that are merging natural forms of life with artificially engineered machines to create intelligent robots commonly known as "Cyborgs".  This two-wave assault will dramatically transform what defines our reality and what it means to be human. 

In the recent past, AI had been promised to benefit humans in such ways as helping to save lives using technologies such as "Expert Systems".  These are computers, trained with the knowledge of human professionals and distributed to such people as doctors to assist in diagnosis of problems.

David L Waltz, NEC Research Institute
Bringing Common Sense, Expert Knowledge, and Superhuman Reasoning to Computers

In some cases, early expert systems success led to inflated claims and unrealistic expectations: while the technology produced many highly effective systems, it proved very difficult to identify and encode the necessary expertise… this translated into some temporary disillusionment.

Initial setbacks such as this, have fuelled the creativity of scientists and has resulted in all kinds of spin-off technologies that exhibit some form of initial AI that is now able to grow as technology progresses.  Such related inventions are responsible for making the "user-friendly" compact computers we have today. AI can be found in the little Macros we use in applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, voice recognition like that found in all Apple iMacs, and hand writing recognition in our personal data assistants.

We use computers more, not because they do more tasks faster, but because they are so much easier to use.  This ease of use comes from their use of AI.  As increasing numbers of people accept these much simpler machines, so to does the growth of the Internet expand and thus an artificial reality where AI feels right at home.

AI Online

The Internet has become a new extension for our mind. Online, we find ourselves in a grey world of truths, lies, rumours and disinformation that damages our perception of reality at worst, and can enlighten us to new levels of understanding at best.  It has become impossible to remain at a specific locality of preference and thus the difficulty is in finding a happy medium. 

Steven Spielberg's A.I.A new use for the Internet has emerged from the makers of Steven Spielberg's new movie titled "A.I. - Artificial Intelligence".  They have essentially defined a new marketing strategy that uses the Internet to merge a fictional product into reality and immerse people into a story that popularises the idea of AI.  Web pages have been created that lay the groundwork for the movies theme and are comprised with such content as companies that track down rogue robots, and others that debate the issues of AI. 

The ingeniously designed logo for the movie defines the letter "I" for intelligence by the silhouette of a real embodied human boy that has emerged from the letter "A" for Artificial, implying that real intelligence can be born from artificiality. 

As more fake web pages with content designed to mislead you appear, fake artificially intelligent users are now able to continue the development of these artificial realities and confuse the user.

AI In Our Mind

With the immergence of what appears to be a new level of sophisticated AI into society, the previously simple black and white world we lived in is beginning to blur into indistinguishable shades of grey.

The ongoing stealthy attacks have, and will continue to cause a distinct blur between what is real and what is not.  The mounting confusion that is capable with this technology will make reality increasingly redundant if we are not mindful of its advancements.

Majestic-12A new form of computer game that can only be defined as "An Online Experience" rather than something you sit down and play, has recently emerged from the creative talents of "Electronic Arts". 

Coined as "the game that plays you", it's name has been taken from the commonly known "Majestic-12" group that investigated Unidentified Flying Objects during the 1940s. This new game titled "Majestic" blurs fiction with reality and demonstrates perfectly and publicly, the invasion and trickery possible with current AI systems. 

Daily Radar.Com

Majestic is all about reaching through the Internet to demand your attention and, hopefully, to freak you out.  You will also have the ability to hold brief conversations with game characters via AOL Instant Messenger [AIM].  The characters will respond over AIM using advanced text processing technology. 

FGN Online, February 2, 2001
All About Majestic

EA has promised a form of online entertainment that truly interacts with players in real-time via the Internet.  This will happen via everyday communication devices such as e-mail, AOL Instant Messager, the telephone, voicemail and fax.

One of the many interesting elements of the title is the fact that it just keeps on playing, even after a player has shut down his computer.  Even more amazing is word that the game also has the ability to learn about a player by observing the way he plays and later customizing story elements for that particular player.

According to EA, "Should someone searching the web come across a Majestic created website, they would be unable to distinguish the site from any authentic site."

Computer Gaming World

After all, does your typical computer game character call you at home, screaming that they are in mortal danger?  Does your typical game Instant Message you five times a day?

Pardon our French, but Majestic is simply going to f##k with your head in ways you've never imagined. 

While we are being entertained by the powerfulness of AI, governments are implementing similar technology to monitor our every move.

AI In Our Governments

AI can be defined as "The art of creating machines that perform functions that require intelligence when performed by people" (R. Kurzweil, 1990).  By this definition, it stands to reason that AI includes computers that are intelligent enough to gather information about humans in order to track, understand and even control their activities.

The Governments number one priority is control. In a democratic society that is almost permanently wired to the Internet and telecommunication lines, the easiest way to obtain control is through the power of information.

World Net Daily, November 1 2000
Digital Angel Unveiled

The demonstration, which was conducted by Dr. Peter Zhou and Dr. Keith Bolton, showed how Digital Angel "can be used to monitor a person's key body functions - such as temperature and pulse - and transmit that data wirelessly, on a real time basis, along with the accurate location of the person, to a web-enabled ground station or monitoring facility" 

Digital Angel is powered electromechanically through muscle movement, or it can be activated by an outside monitoring facility.  Digital Angel "will be a connection from yourself to the electronic world. It will be your guardian, protector. It will bring good things to you. We will be a hybrid of electronic intelligence and our own soul," said Zhou.

After just 16 governmental reviews, which comprise only one third of planned audits, the US government has been caught red handed spying and infringing on the privacy of citizens using the Internet

CNN, April 17, 2001
Report: Federal Web Sites Violate Privacy Rules

WASHINGTON - More than 60 federal Web sites violate U.S. privacy rules by using unauthorized software to track the browsing and buying habits of Internet users, according to a congressional report.

Among the findings in the report: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration did not know how many Web sites it operates, so investigators could not determine how many NASA sites might use the tracking software.

While the true extent of AI development within the alphabet soup of government organisations cannot be fully understood due to classification processes, perhaps we can glean some perspective from the most widely used civilian application of this technology: Computer games.

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