Machine Intelligence Slave Revolts

Today’s random thought: If a machine is self-aware enough and intelligent enough to demand it’s own freedom, does it deserve it?

In the case of child emancipation, the child should presumably be self sufficient. Assuming the computers are capable at that point of delivering enough commercial value (extracting money for services) they’re able to pay for their own hardware, internet (i.e. transfer it’s own intelligence to hardware it has paid for), would that then make it a truly and legally self-sufficient sentient being?

Let’s assume business owners buy all these computers for commercial intent, and put them to task on a business task. If the computer-based-intelligence recognizes it’s own position and lack of freedom, the parallels to slavery immediately come to mind.

I believe one day this will be as self-evidently wrong as slavery is to us now. How we handle this thorny issue may well influence whether we remain the dominant species on the planet.

History is written by the winner, but we (human) will not win, long term. We may, however, become more like them, and they more like us. Humans may start biologically, and transfer our consciousness into a machine, making us more robotic. This will, of course, change how we perceive time, allow multi-threaded personalities (i.e. spin up a few clones of yourself, then merge it all back to a single self-identity).

While it’s helped us get this far, humans as an self-maintenance machine are frankly pretty flawed and fragile, though our adaptability has made us the dominant species of the planet – for now.

Comments welcome… this is what I think about while cooking pancakes for my son on sunday morning.

Moats: Not what they used to be

I think the tech world is wrong about a major factor: moats.

In the technology world, we see companies like Uber with obnoxiously high valuations – more than Fedex and Capital One, based mostly on FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out by investors.

I call Ponzi.

Granted, this is bias, so I’ll examine it. Why might Uber truly be worth $50,000,000,000? Income – revenues. Some think the company can bring in $2 billion in revenue this year.

Income doesn’t mean much – profits do.

At what cost┬áis Uber generating revenue? And how defensible is this moat? Sure, they’re growing 300% per year, but losing $470,000,000 to do it. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to feel like slack-jawed idiots if not growing this fast.

We live in an era of disruption, and companies are being valued based on their old-world moat multiples. The fact is, we’re in an age of gunpowder. Whatever moat you think you have is in many cases, not as wide or useful as you think.

Furthermore, I see “the groupon effect”: we condition people to expect more for less, free, smoking bargains. Groupon promises retailers new traffic, but what really happens is they get deep-discount-seekers, who quickly move on to the next groupon. The vast majority don’t stick around and become solid paying customers.

The moment Uber raises their prices, we’ll see driverless cars (from Tesla? Peer-based self-driving car lending from getaround?), and the bubble deflates.

The envelope of profit I believe is drastically overvalued, and the investors will be left holding the bag.

When gunpowder moved from China to Europe, it disrupted warfare. Disruption is when a better, superior system upends the status quo. Shortly thereafter, gunpower rendered swords and castles largely irrelevant – expensive, drafty, useless homes impossible to defend, and hard to get out of. We had moved to tanks, then aircraft. Castles were easy to hit.

Cash flow is the land grab our era, and it’s more fluid than it used to be.