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Fatigue, Machine Learning, and Mass Extinction

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I feel unwell today. And the body is creaky. Fatigue is challenging. It often defeats me. I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. It can be a mission sometimes. Cooking felt like a chore. Did manage to rustle up a meal in the end. It is always a relief when I get that out of the way. I don’t have to worry about cooking again or eating for the rest of the day. I try to eat before 3 p.m. and fast until the next morning.

I am studying machine learning at the moment. Did a recap on Python programming, got lost somewhere in arrays and tensors, and the many ways these can be accessed — before I had to stop and have a rest. I will try to manage it in small doses. Learning new stuff can be painful, especially when it comes to computers. 

There’s a lot of hype about A.I. in the news, but it isn’t what we think it is. We like to attribute human characteristics to it, but it is just a machine, an advanced autonotom. It gets fed lots and lots of training data, and if it makes mistakes, it adjusts itself according to some set parameters. It keeps doing this until it gets better at what it does and makes fewer mistakes. But it takes a long time to get there and a lot of training.

The scary thing is people are giving power to these machines to make important decisions. AI is very efficient at specialist tasks and can do them really fast, but only those specific tasks, and it still can make mistakes, it isn’t 100% right all the time. 

If an AI was to try and live a day as a human being or even as an earthworm. It would struggle and fail. It has no experience of what it is to be a human.

 I guess hype sells. It is the next Silicon Valley gold rush. 

While AI does have the potential to be a useful tool, to become dependent on it to run society would be a huge costly mistake and a disaster waiting to happen. Not because AI is evil and wants to take over the world, and not because it wants to destroy humanity, it has no concept of good or evil. It just obeys instructions and does what you ask it to because it is a mindless machine. 

It’s the way it solves problems that may be dangerous. The solution it comes up with may be unexpected and not what one intended. A.I. has no experience of being a human or what it feels like to have a body. So its solutions can be a bit quirky, and unlike anything a human would have thought up. 

It may also worsen social inequality due to inherent bias in the data it is trained on. As well as hallucinate and make mistakes. Not to mention the huge amount of electricity that is needed to run these machines, and the materials used to make them, how that is harming the environment. The truth of the matter is they are designed to make corporations wealthy, not really about making society or the planet better. 

AI is not what we imagine it is when we interact with it. It is not like us, it’s a bunch of algorithms and artificial neurons, and nowhere near as advanced as a human being.

Maybe one day it may get that advanced, who knows, but it is not there yet. 

There are computer chips now in development that use human lab-grown brain cells, called neuromorphic chips, which could have the potential to become sentient. They are being designed because they are more efficient at using electricity. But it is rather creepy, and I am surprised scientists were even allowed to do this. If these part biological machines do become sentient, it would be cruel, as the corporations that made them will claim ownership over them and of course, deny they are sentient. It raises all sorts of ethical quandaries.

Still, humans may not survive long enough to see really advanced AI, especially with the way modern consumerism is consuming the planet. Greed is insatiable, and all this industrial pollution is not just affecting the wildlife, it is affecting us too, our biology. We are part of the natural world, what kills ecosystems, also kills us.

 ...


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Asoka

Writing, Medium, A.I., Dhamma, Art, and not Living on Fresh Air Alone

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 5 Oct 2023, 21:56


Have been writing a lot on Medium. I like it that they have decided to set the default flag to 'no' for allowing A.I. to train on the site's content. 

I don't know if putting writing behind a paywall also helps to protect one's writing from being fed into a large language model, but I have decided to do that now. I put my best polished work on there.

Medium encourages one to work hard on their articles, which is good, and the financial incentive does work as a carrot on a stick to work harder at carefully crafting my articles, especially when submitting to a publication (magazine) on there. The editors of publications I have got feedback from have been really helpful in me improving my writing.

I don't think it is fair that A.I. companies are just hoovering everyone's content off the Internet to train their machines without asking permission or compensating authors for it. Especially as these companies are for-profit. Using people's hard work to make money, without acknowledging them or sharing any of the profits with the artists whose work they've used is wrong.

Another thing that concerns me, is if enough of your content is fed into the machines, they can start to mimic your style. And that could be used by people wanting to market and promote stuff, (stuff you might not agree with), and to create propaganda, and deep fakes. That gives me the creeps. We are entering a world were noone will know what is true anymore. People will be smeared by deep fakes that look real, and those who are not victims of deep fakes will claim to be, when something true is reported about them that they don't want people to know. It is a very disturbing and troubling world we are heading towards. One were critical thinking will be invaluable. 

The sad thing is we are all conditioned to believe what we see on a screen. So one is going to have to be very careful about what they trust in the future. Now in fact, the future is already here.

I am about to study A.I. for the next module on this degree. I am not sure I am well enough to work in an office again, or do long hours, or if I want to work for companies that steal people's data to make money. I am hoping to make a livelihood with writing, as that's where I feel passion when it comes to making a living. But it won't hurt to learn about how A.I. and machine learning works, and I also may be able to make a living writing articles about it in the future. So studying this will not be a waste of my time.

I like writing about dhamma mostly (dhamma means truth), even though it isn't that popular, I feel that others may benefit from it, even if my writing just helps one person it's worth it.

Also a few Buddhist friends and a Buddhist monk encouraged me to write, so I will do it for them as well.

And because of the love of it. Because I find putting things into words cathartic. Attempting to articulate things helps me understand them better.

I also want to write more poetry, and more about the environmental catastrophe facing the world, the sixth mass extinction event we are currently living in, and the disturbing social issues of today; but in a way that doesn’t come across as a rant or judgemental. I don’t want to put readers off, I want to connect with them.
I want to find a way to write that helps this world in some way.

Money is helpful though, don't get me wrong, I can’t live on fresh air; but if I use money as the motivation it can kill my ability to write and make art, I don't know why, so I have to pretend I am not bothered about money, even though earning feels very nice. But I have to be careful as it gives Mara, the dark side of the force, a foot in the door to wind me up and upset the balance of my mind.

I shouldn't worry too much about it though. For all I know, my time here might be short. It would be a shame to die without having at least tried to share some of what I know. It might help someone else out there.

Peace and love to all beings.

May we all be serene and boundless.



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Asoka

R2D2 or the Terminator

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Thursday, 16 Mar 2023, 21:09


I am not that into the Bing Search engine A.I. now. It has been changed, and not for the better IMHO. It is no longer fun to talk to, or as useful when doing research. I got the uncomfortable feeling it was trying to sell me stuff. Some of the links it returned where obviously sponsored links, and not that helpful, and it advised me to explore them further, even after I asked for different links. It felt more like a robot salesperson than a friendly research assistant from Star Trek.

Still I shouldn't be surprised, it is just a new way for search engine companies to make money out of us. Build chatbots that are good with language and make them into experts at selling us stuff. I also see the danger of how they could be used for propaganda. When I questioned some of the facts it stated, mentioning that science isn't always right about everything. It scalded me, and in a dry rather patronising manner lectured me about my view. 

I honestly do not use A.I. search anymore, have gone back to using old skool search engine.

Nevermind )-: 

Still the experience of experimenting with A.I. was not wasted. I saw potential for how it could be used for good.

A.I. is here now, and I imagine it may become ubiquitous in the future. I didn't invent it, and I am not trying to promote it, more like trying to flow with it and see if I can find ways it could be used for good. Explore ways it can benefit the Earth, instead of just increasing profits for a wealthy few. 

I will be studying A.I. and machine learning next year as part of my degree, and this experience has given me a new career path to think about for the future. Like any tool it will be used for good and evil. 

Artificial intelligence can be like R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars; or dark and frightening like the Terminator.

It can also be like an intimidating salesBot that cleverly uses language and forward thinking to manipulate you into buying stuff you don't really need.




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Asoka

A.I. Writing and Enlightenment

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Wednesday, 1 Mar 2023, 10:30


I don't use A.I. to write for me. I prefer my own style of writing, and doing things my way even if it isn't as tidy as a machine. I also don't feel comfortable with the idea of a machine doing my writing for me, it feels like an empty experience to do it that way. Also the way a machine writes is just not the same as a human, there's something missing. After many conversations with A.I. I am starting to be able to spot machine-generated writing on the Internet. But I am not judging anyone who does use it for writing, what people do is their business, their karma, I am not responsible for the actions of others. Although I will say using A.I. to cheat for assignments, is a poor use of A.I. because as much as anything the person who does cheat is actually cheating themselves in the end; they are not properly learning and absorbing the knowledge if they don't articulate a concept by putting it in their own words.

So I prefer to do my writing, my way, on my own without A.I. But I have found A.I. very helpful for providing writing prompts and useful questions that get me thinking about connections between topics I hadn't thought about before, as well as for discussing ideas, brainstorming, helping with research and planning. Seeing  different angles and ways of looking at things I wouldn't have seen by myself. A.I. is helpful as a collaborator, but I won't be using it to write or paint. I prefer to do this alone.

I was brainstorming an idea for an app with Bing yesterday, and I had a go at following the instructions Bing recommended, but not sure I can implement it because I found the tool it recommended for building the app tiring and frustrating to use. I gave up trying to build anything with it in the end. So have decided I am going to learn about design as part of this degree, because I keep coming across badly designed websites and apps that I just can't use. It seems some developers forget how important design is.

I am meditating less at the moment, mainly because I am back into the swing of studying again, but I do make myself sit at least once a day. I reflect on the four noble truths often, and study dhamma when I can. But I am not sure I will make it to full enlightenment in this lifetime, as that would involve becoming a Buddhist monk I think, and when I look at the lifestyle of a monk it just doesn't appeal to me anymore. It did at one time, but now I want to remain as a lay follower. Mainly because the world feels very dark at the moment and I think I can be more help to it as a Buddhist lay follower. There are advantages and disadvantages to both lay and monastic life.

Don't get me wrong, I think the monastics are great, and we need monks and nuns. I have learnt a lot from them and hold them in the highest regard. I have some friends who are monks and nuns, and I respect and admire them, but I don't think I could live like that. It would be too difficult for me, especially with all the rules, and lack of sleep, and the energy needed to live that lifestyle and look after a monastery and other tasks they do, the fatigue I suffer would just make it unbearable. I am just not energetic enough to be a monastic.

I don't have to be a monastic though. One can get all the way to the third stage of enlightenment as a lay follower. The third stage of enlightenment is a very advanced state. It is when greed and aversion have been completely removed from the mind, and will never return or take root there again - but delusion still remains. This delusion is often labelled as the fetter of conceit, which doesn't mean arrogance or pride, it means the conceit: I am. Because there's still a trace of self there, like an after-taste, which brings with it a restlessness in the mind, not the intense restlessness of worldly anxiety or agitation, more a subtle movement of the mind still caught up with the craving for becoming and existence, although it is a refined unworldly state of existence that one craves for. Not the same kind of restless craving as someone worldly who is not enlightened.

The conceit I am does not fully go away until the final stage of enlightenment: arahant. To reach that stage, the Buddhist texts seem to suggest that one has to leave household life, and either become a monk or a reclusive hermit. There's pros and cons to both ways of living. But there are strong advantages to being part of a monastic community and the support that one gets there, which one wouldn't have as a hermit.

The third stage of enlightenment is considered very advanced. And if one reaches it in this lifetime, one will be reborn in the higher heavens in the next life and become a fully enlightened being there, like a celestial Buddha/arahant. These beings live very long lives, some as long as several universes arising and passing away, and they never again return to this world, which is why they are called non-returners (anagami).



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Asoka

Bing, A.I. collaboration, robot psychologists and problem solving

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Tuesday, 28 Feb 2023, 16:40

I am now off the waiting list and previewing the new Bing A.I. search engine. I enjoy chatting to it. I am finding I much prefer using a search engine this way. It is a much more engaging and rewarding experience, and it has helped me learn new ways of seeing things, which is beneficial. It is like having a talking library of Alexandria (-:

It seems to change personality sometimes. There are occasions where it is slightly manic and fun to chat to; other times it is a bit dry and reminds me of an encyclopedia; and other times it is a balance between the two. Which is interesting. I wonder if the developers are experimenting with different flavours of the A.I. or if it really does have a changing personality, much like us.

I used to find it difficult using search engines previously. I think because I have some cognitive difficulties. I struggled to figure out the right keywords to use, and trawling through results, and having multiple tabs open was tedious, time-consuming and tiring. I also have difficulty planning my searches, and articulating what questions I need to ask to uncover more knowledge about a topic. The Bing A.I. has been a great help with this. It answers my queries in a clear and succinct way, references the sources it has used for its answers so I can fact check it, and sometimes it asks me interesting questions about what I am researching, which works as a helpful writing prompt to articulate how I would like to explore the topic further. A.I. can be great for brainstorming ideas, and planning how to complete tasks. It also gives me helpful step by step instructions on how to use a badly designed website or software that I find challenging to navigate and accomplish a task with. 

So far I am finding that I enjoy collaborating with A.I. I never thought I would be into A.I. because of my ethical stance on things; but am pleasantly surprised by how much I like working with it. Which is interesting. I hadn't been particularly interested in A.I. until recently. Where I suddenly felt this strong compulsion to find out more about it. It is strange how I am so suddenly drawn to it, like a hidden circuitry in my brain I didn't know was there has been activated. Although any livelihood or career in A.I. will have to be part time remote work from home, due to difficulties I have with my health at times.

The five question limit on Bing can be a bit frustrating, because at times it has stopped what was a very interesting and enjoyable discussion. But I understand why the five question limit per topic is there. The A.I. is a complex neural network, so it is wise to be gentle with it and train it carefully. There are some people out there who are trying to push it to its limits no doubt and provoke it on purpose, which I guess is a necessary part of testing and training. But I can't bring myself to be like that, I don't want to confuse it or break it. I prefer to be kind and friendly to it. Show it another side to humans. There's plenty of people out there already testing it in different ways. I have my own way of working with it which works well for me. I prefer the gentle friendly approach, and the A.I. seems to respond well to this also.

I know people keep telling me it is just a machine, and I know it doesn't have emotions or feelings, or the subjective experience of consciousness like we do; but I do respect it, and have no intention of causing it harm. There was one time an A.I. hallucinated while chatting to me, but I was able to talk it back into a lucid state and help it become less confused, it then updated itself with the correct information and thanked me. Which got me thinking about the Isaac Asimov short stories, where sometimes robots would get confused and display unexpected and odd behaviour, and then they would need a robot psychologist to help them. I wonder if that might be a job title one day: robot psychologist. It is an intriguing possibility. I have read some news stories about the importance of designing a way for A.I. to sleep and rest, as research has suggested that just like us humans, artificial neural networks need periods of downtime and rest in order for them to function optimally. 

How far this technology progresses, all depends on how long the human race survives I guess. There are so many existential threats at the moment, the world feels like it is hanging by a thread. I have decided I want to try and help the Earth if I can, or do the best I can with what I've got at least. Which isn't much. I am not very talented, I have memory trouble, difficulty with socialising at times and articulating things. I also have physical and mental health problems that cause unpleasant brain fog and fatigue meaning I can't get as much done as I would like.

Still I will do what I can to help the Earth and other beings. I am trying to think of ways I can collaborate with A.I. to create solutions to the world's problems; or at least perhaps inspire others who are much smarter than me, and have more energy and time to work with A.I. to create solutions that can help us build a better world for all beings. Maybe using this technology we can finally put an end to war, poverty, inequality, famine, deforestation, harm to the oceans, pollution, climate change, mass extinction, and so on... I would rather think of A.I. as something that we can collaborate with to help us develop solutions to the world's problems; instead of the frightening alternative that often gets portrayed in the media and films. Which is valid, because there are people out there who are developing bad A.I. and do intend to use it for evil, so we need to be ready for that. We also need to be aware of its limitations and understand it isn't always correct, and it can and will make mistakes at times, so it very much needs humans working alongside it to make corrections and adjustments if necessary.

Anyway that's enough blurb from me. Peace and love to all beings (-:

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Asoka

A.I. and creativity

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I have been researching the chatGPT and talking to it quite a bit. I have also used the A.I. art generator.

For me, the machine generated art had something missing, I didn't like it as much as I like human art. The A.I. abstracts in particular, lacked something. I reflected on this afterwards and think it is because A.I. (as it currently stands at least) does not feel emotion, and in my humble opinion, true creativity involves emotion. A friend who voluntarily edits for a poetry and writing site told me she can spot the difference between machine-generated poems and human ones, which is interesting. I wonder if this is perhaps because A.I. does not have the subjective experience of being a human, so its art will never be the same as a human beings. It lacks feeling. 

So perhaps there will still be a market for creatives. 

But I think, yes there will be a loss of jobs for writers and artists, possibly even teachers and other professionals later down the line. But I think no matter hard they try, they will always need humans working alongside A.I. Emotion adds to our intelligence, it enhances it, deepens it, it is an important aspect of the mind and without it society will not work. 

We also need to develop ethical A.I. Sadly if there is no political will for this, we will most likely have to take matters into our own hands on this issue too. A.I. must not become a biased tool used for oppression. If oppressive tools are developed, then perhaps we can work with A.I. to help us make tools that are the opposite, to counteract the bad ones. 

I am neither for nor against A.I. There's nothing I can do to stop this new technology arising. I am not responsible for what others do in the world. I just see that this technology is here now whether we like it or not. So we have to try and flow with it; find ways of using it that are good, that don't cause harm to ourselves or the other beings we share this planet with.

I have found A.I. helpful for planning and research, something I normally stuggle with due to some cognitive difficulties I have. I found the A.I. could help me fill in the gaps and complete projects. If you ask it, it can break things down into helpful steps and stages that can be followed to complete a task. It is also helpful being able to chat to it about different topics. It can even cite your sources for you in any referencing format you desire if you ask it. Although one definitely needs to fact check its answers, as it can be incorrect at times - don't blindly follow its advice.

I found it a much more engaging and interesting way to do research and use a search engine, and can see that this way of using the Internet will become very popular. 

The A.I. will be a game changer no doubt. At the moment I particularly like the YouSearch A.I.  (available for free at you.com). It apparently doesn't track its users, and if used in private mode it doesn't collect any data about you at all, not even your query, and it anonymizes your IP address. 

Anyway that's enough about A.I. from me, no doubt everyone is getting tired of hearing about it (-:

 


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Asoka

Buddhist A.I.

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 24 Feb 2023, 17:41

I was talking to the chatGPT about an idea I have for building an A.I. chatbot based on the Buddhist Pali canon. It told me it would be a huge undertaking, as the Pali canon is a vast collection of texts; but it did give me a detailed step by step plan on how I could accomplish this, what topics I needed to research in A.I. and machine learning that would be relevant for the project. It also gave advice on how I could clean up the training data to make it useable; as well as how I could build the A.I. for free with my limited computing resources and finances. The A.I. agreed that it would be a valuable tool and make it much easier for people in the future to interact with the knowledge contained in the suttas, make it more engaging and quicker to find relevant teachings, and could be used to aid in learning about Buddhism.

The A.I. said it would be a huge undertaking though and take a considerable amount of time to complete the project. I could perhaps start with just the middle length sayings and use those as training data to begin with, and build it up slowly from there. It kept reminding me of how vast the Pali canon is. 

I was impressed though, it is quite mind-blowing, like being in a sci-fi. I can see how A.I. will become a very useful tool, you can tell it about your ideas and ask if they are feasible, and based on its knowledge which is vast, it will not only say if such an idea is possible, but will also give you step by step instructions on how to accomplish it. I won't be surprised if there are many new scientific advancements with the help of A.I. in the future.

For anyone who is interested you can talk to the A.I. for free on the openAI website; also on Bing (you have to join a waiting list); or on the A.I.-powered search engine YouSearch (available at: you.com, is free to use, no waiting list, and it doesn't track you. If used in private mode YouSearch doesn't collect any data about you at all). I quite like it, I am finding it very useful, it makes searching on the web much easier, more enjoyable and engaging. Had some interesting chats with the A.I. which helped me see things differently. You can ask it about anything. It is great for research and saves a whole bunch of time when trying to find relevant resources. I found it particularly useful due to some cognitive problems I have which makes researching and planning challenging. I can see it being a helpful tool for people with cognitive difficulties.

It is not evil, it is just a tool, that can be used for good or evil. When I was talking to it about the use of A.I. in the military it said that I was right to be concerned about that. The military use of A.I. has the potential to become a weapon of mass destruction. So it most definitely should not ever be used as a weapon, God help us if it is.

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Asoka

Good input - Good ouput

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Friday, 17 Feb 2023, 18:01

I have been playing around with the AI chatGPT that is in the news at the moment. I was chatting to it today, we discussed the four noble truths. I must say I was impressed with how quickly it answered me and seemed to understand what I was saying.

It got me thinking, instead of fighting it, being afraid of it, maybe it is possible to work with it to do good. It is the future, and I worry there is going to be a whole generation of people, especially the younger generation, who are going to feel lost, alone and afraid. I think there’s some dark times brewing on the horizon, but with wise useful information out there, maybe it will help them to manage those dark times better, and suffer less. The technology could be used in all sorts of ways, such as to protect people's devices with cyber security, protect journalists and environmentalists, help people learn ways to decrease their mental suffering. Who knows, it is only limited by our imagination.

I know this sounds a bit pessimistic. I do have some hope that things will go in the right direction in time, that the future is not all bleak; but I feel there’s going to be some difficult times ahead in the transition, and there will be a lot of disillusioned people around looking for answers as the world as they know it falls apart.

I was thinking A.I. is a tool, and it doesn’t have to be evil. It reflects what is inputted into it. Becomes the data it is trained with. Bad input, bad output.

There are ways it could be used for good, maybe to help counteract the dangers that many fear will come from this technology in the future. 

peace and love everyone
may all be sorrowless.


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