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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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“The Core of Any Blockchain Project is Decentralization” – Jack Zhang, Lightning Bitcoin

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Lightning Bitcoin is a fork of the ‘first-crypto-currency’ Bitcoin about which we decided to take the opportunity recently to speak to advisor Jack Zhang (AKA DianfuDatou / 点付大头 – known best as a Founder of Chainfunder and DAF).

Discussion topics include: what makes this project unique, as well as how you shouldn’t get it confused is not to be confused with the Lightning Network upgrade which is being applied to the original ‘Bitcoin’.

Who is Jack Zhang

Jack Zhang (AKA DianfuDatou / 点付大头) is a Chinese investor, business leader, and entrepreneur whose “portfolio includes XRP, XEM, IOTA, NEO, EOS, TEZOS, VEN”.

Zhang proudly describes himself as “one of the leading advocators of Ripple in China” having “translated Ripple into Chinese as ‘ruibobi’” – as well as the co-founder of NEO. Please note that most sources ascribe this latter achievement regarding NEO to an ‘Erik Zhang’ and so this claim requires further confirmation – however this writer sees no reason for him to lie in this respect.

He claims that his first experience with cryptocurrency was in 2011, when he entered the industry himself having previously worked as an investment banker at companies such as Zhejiang investment bank.

“I bought more than 10 thousand bitcoins at the price of 5 dollars and sold all of them out at the price of 7 dollars. At that time, I remember how I was reading posts on Bitcointalk about blockchain for several months and got fascinated by the genius design of the technology.”

Zhang says that the Lightning Bitcoin team members “come from a diverse cultural background, including China, the United States, Canada, the UK, Russia, Germany, and India.” And that:

“Currently Lightning Bitcoin has four core developers (listed on the website) with a team of 6 specialists. Eason Zhao is a CTO and H.H.Wang is a leading developer.

“Lightning Bitcoin also has an operational team of 8 outstanding and hardworking people managed by Wasley together with a community manager James Vuitton… We have independent leaders for each directions of the business;”

What is Lightning Bitcoin?

According to Zhang, Lightning Bitcoin is “a coin that takes the best from existing blockchain titans and adds advanced consensus mechanism.”

“Lightning Bitcoin forked from Bitcoin blockchain at block height 499,999… Lightning Bitcoin (LBTC) is a fully decentralized Internet-of-value protocol for global payments.

“The specific applications include peer-to-peer transactions and exchange platforms. Any users that operate on the LBTC protocol can enjoy instant, secure and nearly free global financial transactions of any size.”

Lightning Bitcoin is far from the first (nor will it be the last) fork from Bitcoin. A number of observers have claimed that the correlation between new forks and over inflation of Bitcoin. Jack Zhang however sees it as follows…

“Back in 2017, Bitcoin blockchain started to face network congestions, and a lot of other problems, that is one of the reasons why there were so many hard forks popping up. However, all of them changed either size or difficulty adjustment, what in my opinion did not improve the situation. That is a consensus that makes the difference. Pow and PoS are easily centralized, while DPoS represents true decentralization. Moreover, DPoS has the benefit of high efficiency, with little resource consumption.”

This mechanism utilises the relatively young Distributed Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol which this writer has written about in a recent article, despite its basis upon the Proof of Work (PoW)-based ‘Bitcoin’.

Zhang states that Distributed Proof of Stake “allows separation of the voting power and block production, with no risks of a hard fork.” In fact, the aftermath of the announcement of DPoS adoption coincided with the company taking on another of its advisors “Stan Larimer a founding partner of Bitshares… we found mutual interests, as a result Stan joined Lightning Bitcoin advisory board.”

“Lightning Bitcoin uses DPoS, with the forging interval of 3 seconds, and the block size of 2M. We have achieved the TPS of thousands of transactions.

“Anyone can use LBTC, without censorship. The transaction fees are charged only for preventing network security issues, like DDoS attacks. It is not an off-chain solution on top of the Bitcoin blockchain as Lightning Network. I personally believe that Lightning Network will face the problem of centralization eventually.”

Furthermore,

“Lightning Bitcoin’s on-chain governance system enables LBTC holders to vote for the blockchain improvement proposals and the delegates who maintain the network as Lightning Nodes. It solves the problems of centralization of bitcoin by incorporating all participants in the Lightning Bitcoin ecosystem into the decision-making process.”

Lightning Bitcoin vs Lightning Network

Due to the similarities in naming, it seems natural that there may be a little confusion on behalf of the public and crypto-investment community with regards to the differences between ‘Lightning Bitcoin’ and ‘Lightning Network’.

“There is some confusion, you are correct.

When Lightning Bitcoin forked in December 2017, for Lightning Network it was still unclear when it is going to be launched, since it was still at the internal testing stage; only after four months later, in March 2018 when Lightning Network released its beta, both projects started to be confused by users in some countries.”

This, according to Zhang, is actually a problem more specific / limited to region,

“In other countries, like China, lightning network is not that well-known, as well as it has different Chinese name, that gives us more room for the development in Asia.”

Present and Future of LBTC

“Currently, Lightning Bitcoin network is stable, we constantly improving its functions and adding more products.

“The next big step for LBTC that we are working on right now is the development of on-chain governance, that will allow the network to self-improve and self-upgrade.

“In the future, stable upgrades of Lightning Bitcoin network in combination with chain governance, and decentralized transactions will allow cross-chain flashovers and smart contracts… the exploration of the on-chain governance model will become one of the most important tasks in the current stage of LBTC.”

Zhang continues to discuss the future for the coin in-detail as well, including that:

“In short, after complete integration of on-chain governance, next milestone is the development of new decentralized exchange. It will be an important component of the LBTC payment function.

“This exchange will have both basic functionality such as flashovers function of the gateway, as well as a system to guarantee the ease of cross-chain operations. Additionally, it will have the function of early crowdfunding of project under the necessary supervision.”

Finally,

“After implementing and perfecting the decentralized exchange, the development of intelligent contracts based on the UTXO model will be carried out, and a high-concurrence-based public chain ecosystem will be established to guide the flow of DAPP traffic.”

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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Encrypgen Offers A Low Risk, High Reward Opportunity

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Since the start of the year, crypto valuations have been collapsing faster than Kevin Spacey’s career.  For investors who entered the market a few years ago, it’s been painful but not deadly.  For those who entered the market at or near the highs, this bear market may have turned them off of crypto for a very long time.  However, one bright side of the current market is that some incredible values exist.  And one day these compelling values are going to make today’s investors boatloads of money.  While I’m keeping my eyes on several tokens, perhaps the most exciting crypto company is Encrypgen (DNA).

Investors love to claim that projects they are following or investing in are the most likely to succeed.  But despite the bear market, many coin price collapses have been the fault of the companies themselves.  Many companies have missed their own deadlines and/or adjusted the roadmaps to something less ambitious.  Encrypgen has done just the opposite.  They are meeting their deadlines and are on the verge of releasing a revolutionary platform in the field of blockchain genomics.

It’s well known that small cap healthcare/biotech stocks have the potential of generating the highest returns in the equity markets.  Of course, those high returns come with astronomical risk.  So what if I told you that Encrypgen could generate those kind of returns with only a fraction of the risk that typically comes with start-up science companies?  Well, I fully expect Encrypgen to do just that.

I mentioned the risk is only a fraction typically associated with these types of companies because at some point in the 4th quarter (probably much sooner rather than later), Encrypgen will release the full working version of the Gene-Chain.  The beta version is already live.  The Gene-Chain will allow researchers and scientists to purchase data directly from consumers using Encrypgen’s token, DNA.

In addition, a buy-now feature will be implemented in the platform.  This is expected imminently.  This game-changing functionality will allow researchers to convert FIAT to DNA tokens directly on the Gene-Chain.  Researchers will receive DNA tokens and Encrypgen will receive funds that will be converted to BTC so that the company can continue to operate, expand, and enhance their product offerings.

Anther reason why I consider the risk to be much lower than usual is that the company has already done a tremendous job of navigating the complicated regulatory hurdles.  Because of the sensitive nature of the information being uploaded to the Gene-Chain (consumer genetic data), it certainly is necessary for regulation to exist.  Nevertheless, Encrypgen has already dealt with that while other competitors, such as Nebula Genomics, Shivom and LunaDNA, are significantly behind.  I always prefer to invest my hard earned money in market leaders rather than followers.  And there is no question that Encrypgen is the current leader in this space.

Investors should also take note that Encrypgen currently has an ICO cap of approximately $3.1 million.  Based on some of the other valuations I’ve seen in the crypto space, that is a significant undervaluation.  A $3.1 million valuation for a market leader in one of the fastest growing spaces that is about to release game changing technology doesn’t make much sense to me.  I am expecting a sharp and rapid increase once the Gene-Chain is being used by researchers.  The opportunity to accumulate at these prices won’t exist for much longer.

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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Trans-Fee Mining: Investigating FCOIN and The Future

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Trans-fee mining’ is a concept utilised by a growing number of projects and exchanges which has not received much in the way of critical attention recently from either mainstream financial or specialist cryptocurrency publications.

The Fall of F-Coin?

Thanks to a company called FCOIN, most of the news which has appeared has been negative. Statistical information regarding the exchange can be found at popular aggregate ranking website CoinMarketCap.

Despite positive coverage earlier this year from the likes of Forbes’ Andrew Rossow, David Hundeyin of our sister site CCN.com wrote more recently that the exchange had been “Accused of Crippling Ethereum Network for Cheap Publicity” with a supposed aim of gaining publicity.

These pundits are joined by community members such as Reddit poster u/ltcisking (along with a large amount of other concurring, Google-topping results), who recently wrote a post aimed at proving such allegations, entitled ‘One of the biggest scams to ever hit Crypto’.

Twitter has also seen its fair share of investor complaints as well, including the following…

As well as the replies to this post,

What is Trans-Fee Mining?

Due to the unusual circumstances in which the ‘trans-fee mining’ sits (being supported by a number of independent projects despite the reputation of FCOIN): it is a difficult methodology to describe.

It builds upon the concept of the ‘exchange token’: which is most often associated with coins such as BNB (Binance Coin), which can be used for staking towards a particular crypto in the exchanges ‘community coin of the month’ program.

The original FCOIN implementation appeared to build upon this vision at first. The token’s value is derived from the fact that it has a stable value, and that it can be used on-platform (like BNB) as a means of purchasing other tokens whilst offering regular returns on investment for long-term holders of the token.

What is FCOIN Doing Now?

FCOIN has issued various statements which appear to support the sentiment behind the claims which they have faced. These include a recent August 14th post, with the telling title ‘FCoin community referendum end and recent plan publicity’.

Highlights of the piece include new objectives such as

“1.Complete and publicize the destruction of the remaining unissued FT.
“2. Complete the delivery of all FT warrants and withdraw the FT warrants from the market…
“4. As of the end of the referendum, the previous trans-fee refund will remain unchanged (based on the price of the FT related trading pairs before the suspension), and then, all the trans-fee refund will be stopped (including all return plans based on FT issuance).
“5. We plan to establish an FCoin mechanism and an announcement cleanup team. The team untied and improved the current FCoin mechanisms and standardized the release of various mechanisms in the future, and made a unified interpretation.”

At best, this may be an admission of fault, and at worst: an ambiguous and uninformative piece of messaging which fails to outline the situation with a strong brand or executive voice.

This comes in addition to a couple of announcements regarding ‘compensation planning’ with regards to investors who had “participated” in the fundraising of the ‘GU’ and ‘QOS’ tokens through their service.

The latter included the assurance that this process “compensation plan is an initiative taken by the platform to protect the interests of community user” concluded with the damning statement that:

“The FCoin platform has informed the QOS project parties and urged them to conduct self-examination of market price fluctuations and recent media reports as soon as possible. It is not excluded to take delisting and other related measures. The specific plan will be subject to the subsequent announcement. During this period, QOS will be temporarily suspended.”

Torch-bearers of Trans-Fee Mining?

Various claims of discrepancy against FCOIN’s actions as a company however, have not discouraged many projects which are attempting to build their own version of trans-fee mining. Whether or not they have been inspired by the short-lived success of FCOIN’s implementation is yet to be confirmed!

One of the most recent organisations which has decided to foray into this difficult and all-but-controversial territory is BitMart, an exchange founded by current CEO Sheldon Xia. Their approach is branded ‘Mission X’, and utilises their proprietary ‘BMX’ token.

“All transaction fees from the BMX market will go directly to the users who supported the project. In addition, successful projects will enter BitMart’s main trading markets.

“This program gives users the ability to decide which projects they want to be listed on the exchange, creating a self-regulated market.”

The platform piqued this writer’s attention upon noticing a disparity between public consensus and professional news coverage. Whilst the latter has published next to nothing with regards to the platform, a quick search of social media and communities such as forums seem to illustrate a positive and transparent image.

CoinEx was recently reported to have achieved unprecedented growth following the release of their token – however, like FCOIN have been called out for discrepancies. This time regarding the faking of volume metrics.

Final Thoughts

It appears that trans-fee mining as a concept is a long-way from earning this writer’s confidence, however it must be noted that there are many promising aspects. Time will tell whether talent will shine through or if trans-fee mining will fade out at the hands of opportunists.

What is important to note is that it is not the technology or idea, but the hands that are operating the machine incorporating it.

This writer cannot directly recommend the concept in its current state, but believes that the original idea is solid and if implemented in a viable way: would thoroughly warrant the full attention of any potential investor.

Until then, watch the community and keep an eye on the media – as well as word-of-mouth as this flawed-yet-promising idea is if nothing else, highly interesting!

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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