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Google’s AI Became Highly Aggressive, Could Have Major Financial Implications

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Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has warned us that the continued advancement of artificial intelligence might not be as good as we’d like it to. According to him:

“[The creation of artificial intelligence] will either be the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity”.

In its list of ways the world could end, LiveScience adds “robot ascension” as one, stating that “The Terminator” may be just a movie, but that killing machines aren’t that far from reality, as even the United Nations have called for a ban on killer robots.

Google’s DeepMind, a leading AI research program, has already created an agent that managed to learn independently from its own memory, allowing it to beat the world’s best Go player. Moreover, other agents are currently figuring out how to mimic human voices and even write songs.

Gathering apples

A new study by Google’s DeepMind lab doesn’t ease the fear of a robot uprising, as it shows us AI can learn to cooperate with others, and to, whenever it feels it is going to lose, adopt a “highly aggressive” strategy in order to come out on top.

The team ran a series of tests in order to investigate the AI’s response when faced with a social dilemma, known as the prisoner’s dilemma. Essentially the goal is to see whether or not different AI agents will cooperate or compete when faced with diverse challenges. The tests involved 40 million instances of a simple computer game called “Gathering”. In it, two AI-controlled characters (agents) must gather as many apples as they possibly can.

When there were enough apples for both, everything went smoothly. As soon as scarcity set in, the agents started to use their laser beams against each other, with the goal of knocking off the other agent to gain more time to gather apples. DeepMind’s team determined the aggression was due to higher levels of complexity in the agents themselves. When two less intelligent agents competed against each other, there was a greater likelihood of peaceful coexistence ensuing, as theoretically each agent could gather an equal number of apples.

According to researchers, the more advanced AI agents began to learn from their environment and started to figure out how to successfully manipulate available resources to favor their situation. When there weren’t enough apples for both, they decided to eliminate the competition.

The video shows us how trigger-happy the agents became, even though the only advantage of hitting one another was knocking the opponent out of the game for a small amount of time:

Joel Z. Leibo, a team member at DeepMind, told Wired:

“This model … shows that some aspects of human-like behavior emerge as a product of the environment and learning.”

Hunting prey

Three AI agents were then tasked to play a second game, called “Wolfpack”. In it, two agents played as wolves, and one as prey. The game encourages cooperation, as the wolves get a bigger reward if the prey is captured when both are near it, regardless of which one tackles it.

As you might have guessed, the AI-controlled agents did work together to catch the prey. They learned from their environment: in one example, an agent corners the prey and then waits for the other one to join, so they can get a greater reward.

When less-intelligent AI agents played the game, there were more instances in which they used “lone wolf” tactics to capture the prey. Clearly, the more sophisticated the AI agents get, the more they’ll think about their own self-interests.

The abstract presented by DeepMind does not speculate about the future of advanced AI, but there seems to be evidence showing that things can go very wrong if their objectives are not properly aligned with the goal of benefitting us, humans.

AI is coming for our apples

Although these were two simple videogames, it shows us just how an AI agent can act selfishly, and not for everyone’s benefit. A team of two Oxford academics released in 2013 a paper claiming that roughly 47% of jobs in America were at “high risk” of being automated within the next 20 years. The disruption is going to dramatic. Tesla and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, estimates things are going to accelerate faster than expected:

“The most near term impact from a technology standpoint is autonomous cars … That is going to happen much faster than people realize and it’s going to be a great convenience”

Robots are already capable of doing complex tasks. If you routinely read the news, chances are you have already read something that was written by a bot, as they are capable of writing reports (don’t worry, on Hacked.com we will always use humans…)

Even highly skilled professionals are at risk. An IBM bot, named Watson, has beaten doctors at their own job, as it managed to crack a medical mystery and perform a life-saving diagnosis. AI’s ability to learn means we won’t be able to compete – as humans we are inherently flawed, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Given the AI’s signs of greed, it is possible that AI will become over-competitive in the job market. Soon, its agents might attempt to spy on corporations in order to get inside information, or worse, hack important systems to create havoc. Since bots can analyze data much faster than us, they could manipulate financial markets in order to favor their own goals.

Since our whole economic system is based on proper management of limited resources, an economic crisis could lead to financial chaos, in which AI agents would behave just like they did in the “Gathering” gameplay video. They would use their laser beams on whatever stood in front of them, so they could gather as much resources as possible.

Some believe the rise of AI is going to create new types of jobs for humans, but this theory can be opposed with a historical example:

(Images from Elecktrek.)

Horses used to do a wide variety of jobs, and technological improvements only made their lives easier – they even stopped being used in battles. Yet, there are barely any jobs for horses today. We barely see them in urban areas anymore.

An AI kill switch

This may sound a little farfetched, but even Google employees believe things can go wrong with AI that can learn. That’s why they have been developing an AI kill switch for the past few years.

The kill switch would ultimately allow humans to remain in charge, by giving us a way to interrupt their ability to learn – without giving the AI a chance to avoid or manipulate interruptions. In theory, the chance to stop agents from continuing harmful sequences of actions sounds great, but even those in charge of the kill switch research admit the system isn’t going to be foolproof.

As a matter of fact, we have already seen how AI agents can override our input. Back in 2013, an AI agent was taught how to play Tetris. Even though it wasn’t very good at it, the AI learned that by pausing the game forever, it wasn’t going to lose – and that is exactly what it did.

The AI played its only winning move:

Final thoughts

At this point it is clear robots armed with artificial intelligence are going to be a large part of the future, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to be that bad for us humans. The lack of jobs doesn’t mean we will all starve to death.

AI agents can communicate, learn, and work much faster than us. Autonomous cars, for example, can eliminate the need for traffic signs, as cars will communicate with one another directly, for example. This type of efficiency will mean production will be at an all-time high, beyond the scope of our imagination.

That being said, if our (potential) future AI overlords decide to keep us around, there will be universal wages for every human, according to Elon Musk. As humans, we just need to do things right and avoid creating AI that doesn’t want to keep us around; we need to make it work with us to catch prey, not blast us with laser beams to collect all the apples itself.

Also Read: The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates 

Elon Musk has created a research initiative named OpenAI. It is dedicated to work with the ethics of AI, and its founders have in the past stated:

“AI systems today have impressive but narrow capabilities. It seems that we’ll keep whittling away at their constraints, and in the extreme case, they will reach human performance on virtually every intellectual task. It’s hard to fathom how much human-level AI could benefit society, and it’s equally hard to imagine how much it could damage society if built or used incorrectly.”

Some, including Elon Musk, believe the only way humans can stay relevant in the future is by becoming cyborgs. A “neural lace” that fits into our brain is allegedly already being created, and it would give us additional cognitive and sensory abilities.

Yet, this type of technology is still far away, as all we have done so far is use brain-computer interfaces to help restore motor control for paralyzed patients, and enable communication for patients with brain injuries.

What are your thoughts? Will AI be useful or will it destroy our economic and social lives?

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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GDPR and Blockchain: Three Projects Seeking to Decentralize Data Protection

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Whether you’ve been keeping track of the news or are a citizen within the European Union yourself, there is a great chance that you have noticed the recent discussion regarding the newly implemented GDPR (or ‘General Data Protection Regulation’) in the bloc.

The rules came into effect this year alongside the recent vote in favor of implementing stricter copyright laws pertaining to intellectual property and ‘memes’ and has caused a fair bit of controversy, alongside the recent worldwide events including the USA, and their repeal of ‘Net Neutrality’ laws across the entire USA.

Image source: Forbes.com

Advertising, Big Data and You

For a wide range of reasons, digital advertising is a huge industry – being near-perfect solutions for digital, web-based organisations which are seeking to maximise their revenue / profits, whilst minimising expenses.

A common phenomenon affecting advertising is ‘Big Data’, where user information is collected and processed through complex artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

Your usage of internet technology more likely than not creates an endless trail of digital footprints, which are gathered and interpreted by companies and their systems to provide and interpret detailed insights on user habits.

Data Protection Rights

GDPR is meant to result in transparent and honest interactions between consumers, big data companies, and even social media companies such as Facebook now face the challenge of how to market or rebuild trust with consumers. Though there is still a myriad of concerns amongst consumers regarding how companies will approach this.

Implementation of GDPR has caused quite a shakeup for the AdTech industry, with users are being given total control over how much data websites and applications can collect about them.

Now users can consent to which cookies web operators have access to, but there are still several ways for big data to continue to profit from your data without cookies. Methods such as incoming IP tracking scripts, Browser Fingerprinting and malware-infected websites are commonplace and could prove more malicious than previous methods.

Can Blockchain Further Increase Data Privacy?

Technology has already empowered websites visitors with the ability to overcome issues such regarding data privacy and invasive advertising tactics.

‘Adblocker’ for example is a web-browser extension which automatically removes almost all adverts from a website, and just like ‘NoScript’ (removing potentially malicious scripts from pages) has been utilised by software such as Tor Browser to achieve thorough user safety and anonymity.

Through these kinds of solutions, blockchain or not, website operators are going to be encouraged to increase the quality and value of content on their pages.

Considering such software and the exponential growth of blockchain as an industry, it is of little surprise that we have seen an influx of services, products and ICOs which seek to combine the benefits of these technologies with those of blockchain / cryptocurrency.

Here are a few of what we consider to be the most interesting in the present crypto space…

1. Online.io

Image source: Online.io

The Online.io project financially rewards website operators in a ‘proof of online’ system which essentially quantifies the time spent on each website and rewards website operators appropriately. It is also the only project in this article which we haven’t reviewed on this site so far (although I wouldn’t count it out for the near future, so watch this space!)

Their proprietary crypto-coin (OIO) will be used to distribute rewards to all parties based on visitor time-spent, bounce-rate and other established metrics. This presents a fascinating opportunity for website owners to still effectively monetize their website in compliance with GDPR and without the need to utilize other means of data collection.

Online.io could somewhat be considered a democratized system, as users rank each website based on their experience. The highest rated websites will be rated higher in ‘Trust’ through an algorithmic formula, which acts as an indicator of website quality for future visitors.

It’s likely to continue delivering a highly positive boost to the whole ecosystem as consumers now (especially millennials) would rather get rid of traditional advertising methods: hence ad-skipping buttons on YouTube as well as Ad-blockers and anti-tracker software.

2. Peer Mountain

A blockchain based project which seeks to connect so called “self-sovereign ID holders with businesses, enabling commerce at scale” by utilising technological solutions like smart contracts.

Peer Mountain is unique for providing customers (a private individual / citizen) with a greater level of confidence when looking to access a product or service – no matter where they are, or what their country of origin may be.

To the organisations taking part, budding entrepreneurs worldwide, a whole new market audience is available. A mutual benefit which is equally enjoyed by the ‘self-sovereign ID holder’ too – incentivised by not having to register their private information on a host of centralized servers.

The security is achieved through use of innovative code: which makes use of a combination of user-experience solutions, with the innate security benefits of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency.

3. DOVU

This team has put all its efforts into creating a ‘mobility’-focused solution which incorporates “a unified token, wallet and marketplace for earning and spending mobility related rewards”. By mobility, what they are referring to is of course transportation related activities: such as ride-sharing and courier services.

In this instance however, it also applies to mobility information – and how it is bought and sold in the data economy.

Unlike the other solutions listed, DOVU aims to resolve the contentious issue of data privacy by allowing service providing companies make direct offers to users of its ecosystem in return for a quantity of the platform’s proprietary token.

Key use cases and clients pegged to take advantage of this platform include automotive manufacturers and marketing organisations for use in big-data research and algorithmic insight / report generation.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Crypto Capitulation Is Upon Us

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Capitulation: kuh-pich-uh-LEY-shuhn (noun) the action of surrendering or ceasing to resist.

From their December peak, cryptocurrency assets have given back over $400 billion. This amounts to more than the GDP of many countries.  If this were values lost in the stock market whose worth is in the trillions, it would be called a minor correction. In crypto terms there is only one word to describe the carnage: capitulation.

As painful as it is, the point to be made here is the capitulation is a good thing.  Read on and I will share some thoughts for you to consider.

Mass Media Mania

First let’s take a look at some of the news that is causing such despair. Most recently the selling mania has been in response first to Facebook and more recently to Google.  Both of these mass social media giants have ban cryptocurrency advertising. Read closely and you won’t be shocked to realize that the target of their ire are the many ICOs.

The problem is not that Facebook and Google are the only advertising platforms.  The problem is that they are considered mainstream media and without these two, the trend of cryptocurrencies gaining legitimacy is delayed.  That is right, I said delayed not blocked or prevented.

The World Has Changed

Five years ago, when bitcoin was unknown to most people, this might have been a fatal move. Today is a different story. I recently traveled to a remote mountain town in the interior of Mexico.  Everyone I met had heard about Bitcoin and eyes lit up with excitement when I ask if I could pay for lunch with bitcoin.  

Today are dozens of websites dedicated to cryptocurrencies, either holding them, exchanging them or just writing about them.  Probably the most effective advertising remains on Google, it is called Google Search and it is free.

If someone wants to learn about owning bitcoin or any other currency, there is a ton of educational information.

Of course it would be far better all around if Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt had taken a different approach such as banning only advertisements for ICOs, but that didn’t happen so supporters of crypto aren’t comforted in their beliefs that bitcoin is going mainstream in 2018.

The Flipside Is Being Ignored

Every argument has a flip side.  If the removal of ads contributes to cleaning up ICO scams, that is a good thing.  We can all agree on that point. And let’s be honest there is more than one problem the crypto community needs to clean up.

This adds to the ongoing regulatory news including March 7th ruling in US Federal District Court that cryptocurrencies are commodities.  As such they can be regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC).

On the same day the Securities & Exchange Commission issued the following order:

“If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an ‘exchange,’ as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration,” the commission said in its “Statement on Potentially Unlawful Online Platforms for Trading Digital Assets.”

Not All Regulation Is Inherently Bad

The mere hint of added government regulation typically sends stock market investors heading for the exits and the same holds for investors in crypto.  But this raises the question, is some regulation of crypto a good thing?

If we examine the full spectrum of regulation to this point on a global scale there is one common target most everywhere.  That is the practice of exchanges. So far there has been little or not regulation, threatened or enacted, to protect investors from loss of funds due to security breaches.  

The question that needs to be ask is this.  Will SEC regulation result in better pricing and lower trading costs; if So, then this would provide a desirable outcome.  It is understandable if you laugh at the prospect of any government regulation having a beneficial outcome, but if you look at past SEC practices, you would come away with different conclusion.

So when the next regulation catches the headlines will it be to ban the existence of bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and others or to protect the investor from scams and excess costs?

Capitulation Is A Good Sign

Over the course of a pretty long investment experience, I have witnessed true misery on more than one occasion.  The pain is unbelievable, there is no perspective on the future and all you want is to take action to end the misery.  That is when you know the worst is happening and nothing is ever going to make it better. That is when major stock market bottoms are formed. It surely is painful these days for crypto investors. This is a good sign.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 87 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Altcoins

What’s Behind Cardano’s Rising Popularity in South Korea?

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Cardano, better known as ADA in South Korea, pronounced as “aeda” in the local market, is growing at an exponential rate due to UpBit.

UpBit, South Korea’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange behind Bithumb, is operated by Dunamu, a subsidiary company of Kakao, the operating company of KakaoTalk and KakaoPay. The two mobile applications, KakaoTalk and KakaoPay, have a market penetration rate of over 90 percent in their respective markets–financial technology (fintech) and messaging.

Although UpBit remains as the only cryptocurrency exchange that has integrated Cardano within the local South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market as of date, the popularity of Cardano on UpBit is increasing rapidly. According to CoinMarketCap, 75 percent of Cardano’s daily trading volume is processed in South Korea, by UpBit.

Within its debut month, more than 3 million South Korean users signed up to use KakaoPay, the country’s most widely utilized fintech app. KakaoPay operates as a mobile bank, allowing users to send and receive money, obtain loans, and conduct financial activities. KakaoPay supports UpBit because a subsidiary company of Kakao in Dunamu operates UpBit.

Given that Cardano is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies on UpBit in terms of daily trading volume, naturally, as general consumers in the traditional finance market using KakaoTalk and KakaoPay move to the cryptocurrency market, the first few cryptocurrencies they are introduced to are bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano.

Cardano is also receiving significantly more mainstream and local media coverage than other alternative cryptocurrencies, specifically because the South Korean media has portrayed Cardano as a direct competition to Ethereum. Because Cardano is a smart contracts protocol, it is structurally similar to Ethereum.

The two key differences between Cardano and Ethereum are that Cardano uses a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm and it also has two layers that are used for smart contracts processing and payment settlement.

In South Korea, cryptocurrency mania has swept across most major industries. 5 out of 10 people on the streets, in subways, buses, and cafes talk about bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology on a regular basis. As such, the majority of investors are more technical than other regions.

Most investors of Ethereum in South Korea understand that the Ethereum Foundation and its open-source development team has been planning a PoS update via Casper. When Cardano debuted with a PoS protocol, it led South Korean investors to believe Cardano is a more innovative platform and has a technical edge over Ethereum.

January 31

For cryptocurrencies with strong followers in the South Korean market, January 31 is an important date to keep track. On January 31, local cryptocurrency exchanges are expected to open account registrations to new users and six major local banks are set to provide banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Consequently, on January 31, it is likely that a massive amount of Korean won will flow into the local cryptocurrency exchange market. The recent cryptocurrency exchange ban fiasco, which turned out to be false, further increased the presence and popularity of cryptocurrencies in South Korea.

Cryptocurrencies like Cardano, EOS, Qtum, and Ethereum that have strong bases in South Korea will likely increase in value throughout late January and early February.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.4 stars on average, based on 3 rated postsJoseph Young is a finance and tech journalist based in Hong Kong. He has worked with leading media and news agencies in the technology and finance industries, offering exclusive content, interviews, insights and analysis of cryptocurrencies, innovative and futuristic technologies.




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