Monkey (Harambe?) 2.0

Objective no 2: Better Judgement

Imagine you come back home, thinking that you should be alone, but hear steps and noise coming from the kitchen.

There are obviously people that you didn’t expect there.

You have now to decide on a course of action,

There is no right or wrong action to be taken for it will all depends on peoples experience and state of mind.

It is notoriously difficult to take a good decision in uncertain circumstances all the more when death is a potential and credible outcome from your action.

This underlines one of the most consistent flaws of human thinking

Because life is it at stakes decision will tend to go towards extreme behavior while the probability of a situation being a life threatening situation is not so high.

We would tend towards extremes because emotions heavily influence us towards this course of action.

Now how can a computer help dealing with such a decision?

One way, I particularly like and which is the subject of most of my investigation is by having the machine helping obtaining more information. The more information I obtain, the more rational my decision can be (hopefully).

Let’s say I have with me a Google Glasses like device which gives me night vision or which allows me to detect heat intensity or even more farfetched, can identify people through the air they breath out using their DNA.

Here because we have super-sensibility, can see and smell in the dark, we can assess the situation in a more confident way.

Eventually because we reliably and freely have access to super-information, this sort situation will not trigger as a danger anymore.

What comes through our own senses does not dictate our thinking and therefore judgments are better.

In addition, by not having the feat of death a computer has the freedom to be right.

Let’s say somehow we obtain that the true probability of this kitchen incident being a life-threatening situation is 5%. Because the eventuality of death is not there computer has the freedom to work with this number.

As humans, we would often act as if it is a 100% probability because being wrong might imply dying.

Bummer.

10 million years of evolution and we are still acting like crazy monkeys.

Not always actually.

Our ability to act with different levels of sub-perfect information is a potent force that drives us forward. It is called abstraction and is the mother of intuition.

I recall this example of a book mocking general lack of science knowledge from the public and arguing that most of us would be fine with an explanation that radios make sound because they are small hamsters in it making music rather than knowing the principles of radio waves.

It is a fact, most of us ignore how radio waves work but we can still operate a radio and live an ever happy musical life.

100% is a pure illusion and we evolve and thrive in a world where we do not get a 100% lock on anything not even ourselves.

Vision, our so called most reliable sense, is flawed, we do not see 100% of the light spectrum, no infrared and no UV.

More critically, as the blue/grey dress episode shows we cannot receive sensatory input without judging it. This makes people see according to their own experience the robe in different colors.

As Kant’s put it, all knowledge comes from experience except for Time and Space which he refers to as transcendentally ideal.

Only because we know and accept that we can thrive.

My idea of “success” comes from embarrassing to the fullest that we know nothing and what we know might change tomorrow.

In order to navigate this uncertainty and chaos we need trust, a sort of mental compass polarized by ideas as opposed to ever changing facts.

Its penultimate version is love, or rather universal and unbounded love, the total trust.

Something that machine cannot understand and that I don’t pretend to even grasp but still can make it a lifetime goal.

It is a very hard idea to embarrass but when facts disappear or are clouded with uncertainty only ideas can survive and lead us to the safe shore.

Happy the man who, like Ulysses, has made a fine voyage, or has won the Golden Fleece, and then returns, experienced and knowledgeable, to spend the rest of his life among his family. Joachim du Bellay

PS: The kitchen situation can also be replaced by having a Gorilla apparently attacking a kid in a zoo