What an ignorant tosser

Jaron Lanier, the author and inventor of the concept of virtual reality, warned that digital infrastructure was moving beyond human control. He said: \”When you try to achieve great scale with automation and the automation exceeds the boundaries of human oversight, there is going to be failure. That goes for governments, for consumer companies, for Google, or a big insurance company. It is infuriating because it is driven by unreasonable greed. In many cases, the systems that tend to fail, fail because of an attempt to make them run automatically with a minimal amount of human oversight.\”

And no one individual knows how to make a pencil either. But we do still have pencils.

9 comments on “What an ignorant tosser

  1. He’s a twat. His description of complexity matches that of a single personal computer. What’s more, he uses the word ‘greed’, which in a more powerful version of Godwin’s Law excludes him from not just that single conversation, but any conversation ever.

  2. I think you’ve missed the point, at least of the above quote. It’s a completely correct analysis of the failure of large scale formal systems to organise human behaviour; the basic failure of communism. The idea that you can replace the mass of human individual action with a giant ruleset.

    “Automation”.

    This is the basic reason we need a libertarian/classical liberal economy. The reason algorithmic AI has failed as a project. The reason Google’s belief that a stack of data, mined by algorithms, will generate understanding, or Tim Berners Lee’s “semantic web” are hubristic pipe dreams. And why Gosplan couldn’t produce pencils efficiently.

    It’s an extremely important point at the moment, about a paradigm that won’t work, because it can’t work.

    “Tosser”. Maybe, but not on this point he isn’t.

  3. Godwin’s Law is pretty silly really. I’d have said that the first pertinent and accurate allusion to the Nazis should win the thread. Unless rivalled by a pertinent and accurate allusion to the Commies.

  4. The entire statist/socialist heap of shit is driven by greed, greed for power over others (call it lust if you like but greed is just as good a term). When people see “greed” they assume (fucking socialist conditioning again) that it refers to money. There is no gang more greedy than statists/socialists who would, as PJ O’Rourke aptly put it, “boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the breeze if they could get away with it”.

    As for Lanier, his name might ring a bell with any readers of the long-since defunct Mondo 2000 magazine of 20 years ago (yeah–I guess it is that long ago now-time flays).

  5. If AI research does eventually succeed we might actually create something that does know how to make a pencil. We could create an intelligence that is capable of understanding the whole process from start to end at least as well as every single human being involved in it. Let’s call it the Pencil Test. The Turing Test measures the ability of a machine to mimic a human being. The Pencil Test measures the ability of a machine to replace human beings.

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