what’s happening now is that the philosophical framework of the modern world that was established in the 17th and 18th century, around ideas like human agency and individual free will, are being challenged like never before. Not by philosophical ideas, but by practical technologies. And we see more and more questions, which used to be the bread and butter of the philosophy department being moved to the engineering department. And that’s scary, partly because unlike philosophers who are extremely patient people, they can discuss something for thousands of years without reaching any agreement and they’re fine with that, the engineers won’t wait. And even if the engineers are willing to wait, the investors behind the engineers won’t wait. So it means that we don’t have a lot of time. And in order to encapsulate what the crisis is,maybe I can try and formulate an equation to explain what’s happening. And the equation is: B times C times D equals HH, which means biological knowledge multiplied by computing power, multiplied by data equals the ability to hack humans. And the AI revolution or crisis is not just AI, it’s also biology. It’s biotech. There is a lot of hype now around AI and computers, but that is just half the story. The other half is the biological knowledge coming from brain science and biology. And once you link that to AI, what you get is the ability to hack humans.
Because of technological advances and the sheer amount of data now available about billions of other people, discretion no longer suffices to protect your privacy. Computer algorithms and network analyses can now infer, with a sufficiently high degree of accuracy, a wide range of things about you that you may have never disclosed, including your moods, your political beliefs, your sexual orientation and your health.
I feel like my news consumption these days is like those sushi boats. I sit down and the news just streams by and I pick out the articles I like and read them. Very efficient and also a little bit of fun. But I’ve been stuck at the sushi boat bar of news for far too long, watching the same imitation crab rolls go by. I need a better way to consume better information.
What goes into making plants taste good? For scientists in MIT’s Media Lab, it takes a combination of botany, machine-learning algorithms, and some good old-fashioned chemistry.
Using all of the above, researchers in the Media Lab’s Open Agriculture Initiative reportthat they have created basil plants that are likely more delicious than any you have ever tasted. No genetic modification is involved: The researchers used computer algorithms to determine the optimal growing conditions to maximize the concentration of flavorful molecules known as volatile compounds.
But that is just the beginning for the new field of “cyber agriculture,” says Caleb Harper, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Media Lab and director of the OpenAg group. His group is now working on enhancing the human disease-fighting properties of herbs, and they also hope to help growers adapt to changing climates by studying how crops grow under different conditions.