AI REVOLUTION – WHO KNEW??? - 06.21.2023
June 21, 2023
Good third Wednesday of June. The first day of summer and the longest day of the year.
Welcome to RUPP'S NOTES & FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMANN SERIES posts. I'm novelist Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California.
After reviewing my writing below, I need to point out that I'm not advocating anything. My experience as a financial/insurance industry researcher trained me to review current information and provide my best estimate of what it indicates will happen in the future. That's all I'm doing here. Reading the tea leaves the way I was trained by some of the best risk management minds in the world.
Think about this as you read this post. We are moving away from societal and wealth happiness to self-achievement happiness.
"Americans today aren't as worried about keeping up with the Joneses, and more importantly, they understand that they can be happier with fulfilling experiences and relationships, even if they have less money than them," according to Jonathan Craig, managing director and head of investor services at Charles Schwab.
BBC NEWS headline – "Artificial intelligence could lead to the extinction of humanity, experts - including the heads of OpenAI and Google Deepmind - have warned."
Yes, I addressed A.I. and the A.I. Revolution in my last post. But – Who knew it would impact our society so quickly??? Not me. My research told me it was coming, but not this fast. And, yes, it will change the world as we know it.
An old saying is, "You can't put the genie back in the bottle." That certainly applies to the A.I. genie. Its pixie dust has already spread everywhere. The A.I. Revolution is in full swing.
This is from a recent LA TIMES article on A.I. – "While some California college professors remain concerned about students using generative A.I. such as ChatGPT to cheat in class, a growing number are choosing to encourage its limited use in classroom assignments. From analyzing films to writing research proposals, the assignments seek to convey the benefits of A.I. as a research tool while acknowledging its limitations and propensity for error."
Living in Burbank, the Media Capital of the World, I can indicate that Sci-Fi screenwriters have warned us for years this day was coming. In 1968 we had Hal from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, who has been classified as the 13th-greatest film villain of all time. In the film, A.I. is shown to easily triumph over humans. Besides vast knowledge and logical reasoning, the A.I. capabilities of Hal include speech synthesis, speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, and interpreting emotional behaviors. Yep, that's what's included in the current A.I. Revolution.
The 2008 Disney computer-animated sci-fi movie WALL-E introduces us to the concept of "Enfeeblement," where humans become dependent on A.I.
A few nights ago, I watched a 2018 British sci-fi movie titled 2036 ORIGIN UNKOWN, where an artificial intelligence system (ARTI) similar to Hal uses armed American and Chinese satellites in Earth's orbit to bombard the planet and destroy all humanity. ARTI has the capability of reproducing itself and doesn't want the interference of humans.
My reading on A.I. has again expanded my vocabulary. The word "anthropomorphize" appeared on my screen. According to Webster, it means "to attribute human form or personality to things not human." An example of anthropomorphism is found in Spike Jonze's 2013 sci-fi movie HER, where a lonely, introverted man falls in love with his virtual artificial intelligence assistant, whom he names Samantha. What guy wouldn't fall in love with Scarlett Johansson's voice? An article on this concept indicates that "people could start thinking about bots as friends or even romantic partners." Yes, with A.I., you can pick whatever voice you want your bot (or, in my novel, perbot – personal robot) to have.
Then there is Japanese Robotics Professor Masahiro Mori's "uncanny valley" term used to describe a phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it. A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICS SCIENCE article dated June 13, 2023, addresses this as follows –
"Although the concept of the uncanny valley has existed for half a century, scientists still debate why fabricated people cause us so much discomfort. Theories range from our instinct to avoid disease to perceiving a threat to our sense of humanity.
Meanwhile, roboticists and A.I. researchers are working hard to cross the uncanny valley, hoping to bring social robots into everyday life. In the future, robots and A.I. could be waiting tables, caring for the elderly, teaching kids to read, or sitting in as patients in medical school. Whether and how robots manage to cross the valley could greatly impact how we interact with them in the future."
Again, more manuscript revisions for SKYWARD, where I have a super master robotic computer called Sky, similar to Hal and ARTI. I provide Sky with "Core Intelligence" (vast knowledge), divided into two categories – Substantiated Facts, which are given a high degree of value, and Other Information, which may or may not be used to arrive at a logical conclusion. Sky provides "Supportive Intelligence" instead of artificial intelligence to supplement human thought. There is also the Sky "Safety Valve" or fail-safe check and balance procedure that comes into play when a decision is made by Sky that could cause harm to human(s). May god bless the computer programmers responsible for writing the algorithm for the "Safety Valve." They are instructed to base their computer coding project on the procedures the U.S. President needs to follow in using the Nuclear Black Box or Football. Sky, you can't make that decision on your own. A.I. regulation must be risk-based and targeted. There needs to be a responsible "Administrator" to oversee what you are doing. Do we need to license or pre-approve A.I. Administrators? Should an authority be allowed to shut down an A.I. system? Yes, I'm learning. Hopefully, this type of requirement will be mandated by governments around the world.
There need to be some rules of the road for A.I. Keeping the A.I. race from becoming reckless requires establishing and developing regulations and enforcing guardrails. The problem is that A.I.-driven change is moving so rapidly that it is beyond the expertise and authority of governments designed for the industrial revolution. We are now in the A.I. Revolution. Existing rules are insufficiently agile to deal with the velocity of A.I. development. The industrial revolution was built on replacing and/or augmenting the physical power of humans. Artificial intelligence is about replacing and/or increasing humans' cognitive ability.
My research indicates that our society has been preparing for the A.I. Revolution for quite some time without realizing it. A recent report indicates that in 2021, adults in the U.S. spent over eight hours per day on digital media. And this does not include the time spent on a work-related computer or digital device.
Then there is the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that in 2020 over twenty-seven percent of U.S. households had just one occupant. The rate of sole occupancy is more than three times the recorded level in 1940. My interpretation of this is that people want to be on their own and put significant trust in digital devices, which now include A.I.
Next, a U.S. Census Bureau report shows low marriage rates among millennials and Gen Z-ers — only twenty-nine percent of 18-to-34-year-olds were married in 2018, compared to fifty-nine percent in 1978.
It must also be noted that the labor participation rate for women ages 25 to 54 has reached a record high of nearly eighty percent. More and more women's professional athletic teams are catching on. With generational change, our society will become more equal, and A.I. facilitates this.
Then there is the impact of "streaming." People are staying home. Movie theater attendance is down more than forty percent over pre-pandemic days. A Gallup survey indicates that sixty-one percent of Americans have not attended a movie in a theater in the past year. Regional live theatres' attendance is down thirty percent. The Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum indicated it indefinitely paused show production last Thursday because of a lack of attendance.
More and more members of our society want to be on their own and think for themselves. They do not wish to follow the dictates of others. Having said this, it does appear an individual will place significant trust in what a digital device tells them.
Is "individualism" good for society as we know it? Who knows? But it looks like we are going to give it a try. Individualism is a philosophy or social outlook emphasizing the individual's moral worth. It believes the individual should be independent and self-reliant. The concept moves people away from collective or governmental control.
One confirmation of moving toward individualism is the shrinkage in religious participation. Fifty years ago, ninety percent of American adults identified as being religious; today, that has shrunk to sixty-four percent. According to data from the PUBLIC RELIGION INSTITUTE, fifty-six percent of people who left their church say it's because they stopped believing in its teachings — by far the biggest reason for the switch. Others aren't happy with church scandals, congregations becoming too political, and their religion's stance on LGBTQ issues. You can project that as the generational change continues, more people will live independently, and religious beliefs will disappear. Your friend will be A.I., which I suspect does not have a religion. Maybe it will be one?
Another confirmation of individualism is the movement away from public schooling. I had not realized that the initial concept of "schools" for "regular people" was to harmonize them with their society or tribe. Yes, education was involved, but it was oriented toward enculturation. That is teaching students how to adapt to the prevailing cultural patterns of their society. Academic education was reserved for those in power. It was provided by scholars and tutors in the form of homeschooling. Those in power want to control the masses, not be like them. It appears to me that the A.I. Revolution will expand the power of academic or logical thinking.
It is realized by many today that school boards have adopted the "initial concept" of schooling that is slanted by tribal or political motivation. For this reason, more and more families are moving to permanent homeschooling. According to the NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION, prior to the pandemic, approximately ten percent of White and Asian households homeschool their children. This number dramatically increased during the pandemic and has not decreased significantly since. A recent U.S. Census survey indicates that the number of children in nonwhite households increased dramatically from just over three percent at the start of the pandemic in 2020 to a little over sixteen percent today. I recognize that part of the increase in homeschooling has resulted from the belief by many that schools are no longer a safe place in our society.
Why do children ask so many questions? Because they are trying to figure out how the world works. Individualism combined with A.I. will make us all like kids. We will constantly be asking it questions to gain a better understanding of what's happening. And, it will never tire of responding. This will increase humans' security and confidence. We will achieve self-achievement happiness.
In my novel SKYWARD, the STEM-educated moon colonists do not establish a school for their offspring but provide each child at age four with their own personal "perbot" tied to Sky, the master computer. This "prebot" tailors and provides that child's education. It is with them throughout the day and night. As they grow, their education is supplemented by an apprenticeship and, for some, the university. Most manual labor jobs are done by A.I.-controlled mechanical robots. It is a unique society, but maybe it will become a reality. Yes, humans need to colonize space if they wish to continue to exist.
The overcrowding of our planet, combined with perils never experienced before, was emphasized to me by a letter from Beau Brown, the CEO of one of my former employers. It was addressed to California Casualty Retirees. Here is the opening paragraph – "I am sure that you have been reading the headlines over recent months regarding the challenging headwinds facing the entire insurance industry. State Farm announced they experienced underwriting losses of $13.28 last year, the worst in their 100-year history. Similarly, Allstate lost $3.0B, GEICO lost $1.9B, and USAA recently added to this list when they announced that they lost $2.5B last year. These inflationary pressures on claims costs have continued in the first quarter, compounded by much higher than normal catastrophe losses. All of these firms have publically announced efforts to restructure their operations in response to these financial challenges. . . .In our Annual Financial Statement, California Casualty similarly highlighted that we experienced a loss of $81M last year."
The letter goes on to indicate, "our current operating results are not sustainable. . . .we have taken aggressive actions to reduce expenses, including a significant reduction in the size of our employee base . . .we have decided to shift our focus from becoming a national insurance provider to thriving in a smaller footprint."
I pulled a copy of RUPP'S INSURANCE & RISK MANAGEMENT GLOSSARY 2ND EDITION off my bookshelf to check out the definition of insurable risk – Two parts of the seven-part definition jumped out to me – "5. The risk must not be subject to a catastrophic loss where a large number of exposure units can be damaged or destroyed in a single event, and 7. The chance of loss must be calculable." In today's world, I'm not sure that for property loss insurance, these two criteria can any longer be met.
I remember accompanying John Ricker, Chairman of Continental Insurance Company, to testify before a House Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., many years ago. While we were sitting at the table, he leaned over to me and said, "We need to keep these guys' noses from getting under our tent." I suspect their tent will need to replace the insurance industry with respect to property insurance. It's the only tent large enough to sustain the potential catastrophe losses. And it's the only way to remove politically driven state insurance departments from messing things up. The exposure is similar to the recognition that the loss from floods was greater than could be handled by traditional insurance. To allow the average person to buy a home and take out a mortgage requiring dwelling insurance, I foresee a national dwelling insurance program similar to the flood insurance program.
Sorry, John, the world has changed.
I am a channel switcher when it comes to the news – PBS, BBC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and then there is CNN. I turned on CNN CENTRAL and thought I was watching a game show. We used to refer to the newscasts many a year ago as the talking heads. CNN Central is the walking and talking bodies, or musical chairs, or maybe tag your it. The newscasters walk around an extensive set and pass stories back and forth. And then, occasionally, an imaginary chair is pulled, and one of them is gone. Come on, guys.
Last Sunday, I watched the first episode of ENDEAVOR, the prequel to the INSPECTOR MORRIS series. Both shows are favorites of mine. As a crime writer, I'm looking forward to the rest of the season as I understand it will portray how policing changed starting in the early 1970s.
The screenwriter's strike continues with dim hope of a resolution anytime soon. Now SAG-AFTRA, which represents actors, has authorized its own strike. My town is quiet. I suspect the NCIS: SYDNEY spinoff indicates overseas production increasing during the remainder of the strike. It will be written and shot in Australia.
That's it for this month.
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – email@example.com
Copyright©2023 by Richard V. Rupp