Artificial Humor

Is it just me, or are there a lot less funny movies and TV shows now than there used to be? The quality and quantity both seem lower now. I'm not saying there aren't any funny movies or TV shows. But 30 years ago we could see 3-4 really funny movies a year, there were 2-3 really funny TV shows, and a new TV show premiered almost every year. These days we are lucky to have even one hilarious TV show and a laugh-out-loud movie every year.

Supposedly Arrested Development was one of the funniest TV shows ever made. I think it's a good show, clever, well made, and Season 4 was a work of art. I'm glad I watched all 4 seasons but I didn't think it was consistently hilarious. I smiled a lot while watching it, but hardly ever laughed.

The level of chess and Go being played today is far above that from 50 years ago. Many people (not me) would argue that modern art has created highly advanced works. Even some artistic movies seem better and more advanced than in previous decades. A Bergman movie seems pretty stale these days. So why aren't we in the golden age of comedy, an accelerating era where laugh-out-loud funny movies are released every week?

In this list of the 25 funniest movies ever made ....most of them were made a long time ago. Recent movies just aren't that funny. We are lucky to have a lot of clever movies, good plots which bring a smile to your face. But they aren't laugh out loud funny like The Blues Brothers.

That's why I'm looking forward to comedy written by AI. We can call this artificial humor. This takes the roomful of monkeys analogy to a new level. A powerful AI could write thousands of funny stories and scripts per day, then filter out the few it thinks are hilarious. A single machine could generate an outstanding script every day.

Björn Schuller knows what is coming. Machines will soon be writers.

It will take awhile, the same way it took awhile for a computer to beat the world champion in Go. There were many “experts” who predicted a computer could never beat the Go world champion. Not only were they wrong, but they were proven wrong a lot sooner than even their detractors expected. Someday computers will be just as funny as humans.

So keep an eye out for artificial intelligence scriptwriters. If I were trying to make a living as a scriptwriter I would be pretty concerned about all this for one simple reason. If a computer writes 1000 scripts it can delete 999 of them without us ever knowing. It can grade them and keep the best 0.1%. Human writers don't have the luxury of deleting 99.9% of their work, few human writers have the luxury of deleting anything.

So in conclusion, I for one welcome our new comedy writer overlords.

A Galaxy to Call My Own

My first short story in the Kindle Store is now available.  I would appreciate your support. A Galaxy to Call My Own

It's a Fermi Paradox story.  Doesn't resolve the Paradox or support it, it's just set in a universe with no other aliens....rather that's how the story starts.

Incidentally.  The story is set in NGC 6217, and that's the galaxy shown on the cover:

Barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217


What is the Singularity?

Many people scoff and have problems even understanding the Singularity.  With credit to Charlie Stross the singularity is defined as a specific 13 year period from 2047 through 2060.  Here is a chart of the computational speed of the fastest computer in the world, as measured in floating point operations per second.  You can see that today we have a computer rated at 8.16 petaflops. A human brain has the computational power of approximately 100 petaflops.  So even today the most powerful computer is an imbecile as compared with a human.  It will be 2016 before the fastest computer can claim to match the power of a human brain.  That is NOT the beginning of the singularity.

The population of this planet will soon peak out at 9 billion souls.   9 billion people have the computing power of about 10^27 flops (1000 yottaflops).  Does that sound like a lot?

According to this chart in the year 2047 the fasted computer in the world will have the capacity of 1% of all existing human brains.  13 years later the fastest computer in the world will be 100 times more powerful than all human brains combined.  This sudden transition of the dominant computing species on Earth is the Singularity.  That's it.  It's pretty easy.  It's going to happen unless we destroy our computer chip manufacturing infrastructure.

A more radical view is to use the top curve, the sum computer power of the 500 fastest computers in the world.  Next year this sum will match a human brain.  The singularity (the transition from 1% to 99%) will span the years 2042 to 2055.  A pessimistic view says that a human brain has more like 1000 petaflops, or even 10,000.  That just pushes the singularity out another 5-10 years.  It does not even remotely change this argument.

If you don't believe this will happen then you need to give a very good, very technical reason why this growth curve will stop.  It cannot just slow down, that only delays the transition a few years.  If you do not have a well defined technical reason for proving this computing growth curve will stop then you have no argument against the singularity.

We simply cannot know or predict the consequences when 1000 yottaflop intelligence is actively rewriting its own software and designing its own offspring, when exaflop and zettaflop constructs are free to think and create for themselves.  Anyone who says they know what will happen is simply wrong.  The real truth is that we really do not know, we cannot know.  How will we even communicate when less than 0.01% of the computing in our solar system is done by human brains?

And a final note.  These beings will grow 1000 times more powerful every 11 years.  Unless our population suddenly grows 1000x every 11 years then we cannot even conceive of keeping up.  By the 22nd century human brains will be an infinitesimal portion of the computing power of this solar system.  If you want to know what it might look like read Accelerando by Charlie Stross.  This might be the most important book ever written.