LOST, FOUND, IMAGINED – ones, zeros, and very large numbers
Tuesday, March 27, 2023
Fear of loss.
What do you fear losing?
Most of us share common anxiety about health, family, finances, stable governments, stable banks, healthy environments, longevity, privacy, security, viruses and vaccines, war, and stupid things politicians say while trying to buy our votes with our own money. And, in Alberta, commodity prices …
But after that, on top of those worries, what is the world coming to or racing away from?
Old ways, old-school thinking, and the digital age as we’ve known it to be all our lives – and no matter how educated or progressive we profess to be, the future is looking more exciting than it has ever been. What machine learning, A.I, and the convergence of voice, image, and writing in the ChatGPT world that we’ve been hearing so much about is like watching the previews of coming attractions at the movie theatre (remember those?) is smart, scary, exciting and probably the best ‘new thing’ for mankind since Guttenburg reimagined that grape press as a printing tool. While it seems many people share that view for now, I think that is underestimating what this is and comparing it to the age of enlightenment. It could be much, much more, and that is the most exciting part and also where the frightening parts come in …
We live in a world of participants – there are not winners or losers – just everyone having a good time, right?
That’s what we tell kids on a soccer pitch, t-ball field, or ½ rink, just have fun, and we won’t keep score.
Whoever thought that up should not have taught their kids to count …
The world keeps score, and we don’t always know who is winning – each side in the philosophical war, culture war, real war, war of words, and wars of ideology will tell you they are winning, and the other side are the losers.
Einstein said World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones. He might still be right, but Eric Schmidt thinks the volleys (i.e., U.S. vs. China) will be fought by opposing A.I. driving cyberattacks/counter-attacks that will go over in a part-second. I think Schmidt is overlooking stupid, arrogant people getting in the way of their inventions and short-circuiting the devices by pouring cold water or cold war over them. Schmidt’s an enlightened guy with this much to offer on A.I. Another wise guy on this topic is Mo Gawdat, who wrote Scary Smart.
P.S.: two California geeks Larry Page and Sergey Brin – were the geekiest of geeks at Stanford, and before they were teaching us that, long before Google became a company name, a noun and the verb to Google, their inspiration was the term googol, a math term coined by Milton Sirotta, which means a number – 10(10100), or 10googol... A googolplex is number 1, followed by a googolplex. On the other hand, a googleplex is their headquarters facility at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California. I remember reading what a googol was and about this sensational new search engine called Google in Wired in 1999. With that search engine, I was wowed and have been a user ever since. Today, their companies under the umbrella of Alphabet Inc. own everything named Google, YouTube, Waze, DoubleClick, Nest, Looker, Fitbit, Looker and Mandiant. These big number of experts have a market cap of US$1.75 trillion – a fitting valuation for something that started with US$100,000 of startup capital on September 4, 1998, that generated revenue of US$ 282.2 billion in 2022. Most of their revenue comes from advertising. It seems they’ve analyzed our keystrokes, choices, clicks, behaviours and spending patterns so well that they can place ads for what we might want wherever we are so we’ll make their advertisers happy, make them rich – and in the bargain, we get to find whatever we want from everything there is faster than anyone else can provide it, and they provide it to us for free. Who would imagine, long before A.I., was on anyone’s lips, Larry and Sergey began it all with a great idea. Wow, the power of ones and zeros – large numbers indeed.
P.P.S. it began with Page, whose childhood and family life were immersed in computer tech parents fostering opportunities from toddlerhood, together with his search for a thesis topic for his Ph.D. – an idea exploring the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web, understanding its link structure as a huge graph and encouragement from his supervisor Terry Winograd to pursue it. Wow, 1.7 trillion!