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Mark Crowley
Works at University of Waterloo
Attended University of British Columbia
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Mark Crowley

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I don't think I agree with his point but a good discussion about the Future of Life Institute's letter on automated weapons.
Undoubtedly Well-Intentioned. Probably Ineffectual.

The Future of Life Institute has a very well-intentioned open letter out that is seeking a ban on autonomous offensive weapons, and is soliciting signatures from those active in the field of artificial intelligence and related fields:

I agree with all of the concerns, risks, and reasons that they list. That autonomous weapons will be possible in years, not decades and that they have the potential to transform warfare to an extent on par with or surpassing gun powder or nuclear weapons. That autonomous weapons will likely quickly filter through black markets and have significant destabilising potential. And that starting a military AI arms race is a bad idea. In addition, while Nick Bostrom hasn’t put his name to this letter I think he is correct in identifying a number of serious risks in developing advanced AIs, especially when combined with weapons technology. 

But I disagree that calling for a ban like this will in any way ameliorate or address those risks; +Kevin Kelly is right, autonomous weapons are inevitable and banning the inevitable sets you backwards I think banning the inevitable only makes things worse and seeking to ban, delay, or put the brakes on only results in giving up your equal footing with everyone else and ceding the advantage to other groups who will continue with it regardless. Banning drives it temporarily underground where you can’t see it and where it might take you by surprise. 

Technological prohibition only postpones the arrival of that technology. In a globally interconnected network of agents, ideas, information, and tools acting as the ecosystem on which the technium evolves, banning a technology in one part of the network will only serve to shift the fitness landscape; the local maxima representing that technology will still be there and it will still be climbed, still be sought out by other areas of the network selecting for it. 

This recent, relevant piece by Aaron Frank Can We Control Our Technological Destiny - Or Are We Just Along For the Ride? is also worth considering in this light. This piece reinforces the inherently evolutionary nature of technological development, references prominent thinkers in the field including Susan Blackmore and Kevin Kelly once again, and suggests we humans are not directors of - but merely vehicles for - the evolution and development of the technium via technological memes. If there is one thing evolution has shown time and again it is that it is smarter than we are. Better to co-opt and learn from it, rather than temporarily suppress it. 

Many countries tried to ban GMO crops; GMO crops are everywhere. The USA tried to ban embryonic stem cell research; ESC expertise developed elsewhere anyway before coming back to and being driven by the USA. Even look at simple psychoactive drug compounds, which are banned in most countries and yet available everywhere. And yet here we have a proposal seeking to ban an inherently digital technology, one that can be manipulated and transported much more easily than all of the above. It was John Gilmore who said The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it. In a similar way we might say Evolution interprets an adaptive ceiling as pressure and flows around it. 

In addition to this the logic quickly follows cold war MAD-ness. Do we really expect China to trust that the USA military won’t work on developing autonomous weapons, and do we really expect the USA to trust that the Chinese military won’t do the same? It’s a silly question that begs whether a military arms race in autonomous weapons technology is already underway. Especially when, at some point in future, it will incur such trivial little effort to take state of the art AI technology and autonomous drone and robot technology, and recombine these with weapons technology. 

My main worry with such bans is that they risk leaving us worse off, more vulnerable, less protected, less able. I want to see the people on that list, many of whom I’ve heard of and respect, contribute to the evolution of this technology as best as they are able because I think we’re all better off by having those contributions than not. At the very least they would help develop a greater, more robust ecosystem of protective options, from autonomous anti-drone drones to kill switches and methods of evasion. Ultimately a ban seems to risk a very one-sided developmental process; like an animal birthed into a virgin ecosystem and finding itself with no natural predators and able to run ten times as fast as its prey. 

#evolution   #technium   #autonomous   #weapons  
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I didn't know the Allium existed. Now I do.
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That's great news, now if they'd just add an easy way to add all the gmail labels I've built up over the years, without scrolling all the way through, then I'd switch completely.
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If an election falls in the forest and nothing changes..ever, is it still a democracy?

I’m an outsider to Alberta politics so I will attempt to refrain from making any statement about who I think should win or what the important issues are in the election. But there are some disturbing, anti-democratic threads in the wave of editorial…
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Perhaps a better question would be: if the ruling party changes yet nothing else does - is there any point to being in a democracy.

I have been in Alberta for 30 years, moving here as an adult. I, along with most people who I know vote, select the person who we think will best represent our riding. As a result, I have had  NDP, Liberal and Conservative representatives. There has been a lot of change in the province even though the same party has been in power, perhaps because there is a lot of new wealth that still has memories of not being wealthy or perhaps because the economy has been vibrant enough that one doesn't need a debt crippling education to get a well paying job - and they are accessible enough that they drive up service job wages. Unlike many provinces, we have a environmental reporting system with timely feedback; voters are regularly polled for feedback before changes are made and if you don't have a computer, someone will help you at the public library.
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On the significance of sound and fury.

Oh journalists, you love a strong response to an unanswerable question don’t you? The media are really into nailing down what each party leader thinks about coalitions after the next election at the moment. Case in point, this week’s little drama with…
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Great montage of mission patches from Apollo missions. Too bad it stopped.
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When did Gmail remove the post to google+ button, that's a pretty big deal.
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Executed Prisoners Are Not Political Props

Huffington Post: The Conservative Party of Canada uses the execution videos of the people they want to protect as props to attack Liberal leader as unprepared for leadership. Whether military action is warranted and productive is a case by case decision.…
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So glad Ello added 'loves'. Actually, they implemented 'likes' and used a different word. In fact, they took the main problem with Facebook's 'like' action and magnified it by how much stronger loving is than liking. Is that a lot? I think it's a lot. But the difference between like and love isn't the main problem, the main problem is positive intention itself. As far as I can tell no major social network have a richer set of single click responses. 

You know what would be great? A flexible set of words to let you simply say how you really feel about a post. Why must we like, love, fav, +1, star or upvote everything? 

Why are the only actions anyone can think of

(1) Reshare/retweet 

(2) indicate agreement/like/love/adoration?

There are a lot of other emotions and inclinations towards a message. Why isn't there a social network with a 'meh' button? 

Or what about these: 'disagree', 'sad', 'hug', 'adore', 'hate', 'gag', 'give condolence', 'support', 'stunned', 'surprised', 'confused by', 'jealous'?

Sure we can post a message describing these feelings, and maybe that's better. For a positive, artistic space like Ello maybe that is the right approach. I'm really actually more complaining about Google+ and Facebook which are the broader social networks where you'd expect this. 

I just don't understand why it all has to be so one dimensionally positive. Maybe people are afraid of negativity exploding on the internet. Gosh, wouldn't that be horrible. 

Clearly leaving it out hasn't fixed anything. In fact, maybe some horrible arguments would actually be avoided if people just clicked a 'disagree' button rather than entering in a badly thought out explanation that causes a misunderstanding. I'm not saying people shouldn't talk and all communication should be carried out via button pushes. People who have an opinion will always express it. But people who dislike something without knowing why or without wanting to explain might prefer a simple outlet for it. It would be more like the real world where a frown, a grin, or rolled eyes are all visible, subtle signals about someone's response which are lost in current social networks. Ooh, those are good ones.

... "frown", "grin", "rolled eyes"...

The other problem with just the two options is that you get an exaggeration of positive feedback and a diminishment of the power of positive words. Everyone like's my posts, great, well now they all 'love' them. Didn't love use to mean something? I like your bike photos, I do, but do I love them? 

..."indifferent to", "mildly intrigued by"...

Ok I'm done. I'm going to repost this on those other networks now. 
Keep on lovin' everybody.
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"+1" - whatever that means.
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Google+ seems to have a bit of a bug with its integration with wordpress. Every time I edit a published post that was 'promoted' to Google+, a new post shows up on my G+ stream. Thus the recent flurry of reposts. Oops.
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Ah. Okay. That explains things. Yeah, it's a bit of a bugger, isn't it? 
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This should be very interesting if you are into controlling computers with your brain, and I mean, who isn't.
Please join us on 5/5 for a +Science on Google+ HOA with Dr.+Miguel Nicolelis, Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, Psychology, and Neuroscience at +Duke University, and founder of Duke's Center for Neuroengineering. Dr. Nicolelis is a pioneer in neuronal population coding (simultaneously recording from hundreds to thousands of neurons), Brain Machine Interface (controlling robotic or avatar limbs with thoughts), neuroprosthetics (prosthetic limbs that directly communicate with sensory and motor cortices), and Brain to Brain Interface (tactile or visual information encoded by rat 1 is decoded by rat 2). Dr. Nicolelis has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, with many of these publications appearing in high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (see below for a short list of publications). More recently, Dr. Nicolelis’ research made it possible for a quadriplegic child to use his mind to control a bionic exoskeleton and kickoff the opening game at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

RSVP “yes” to add this event to your calendar. We will open up the Q & A app so feel free to post your questions on this event post or by using the app during the hangout.

Relevant Links:
Faculty page: 
Lab page: 
2012 Ted Talk: 
2014 Ted Talk: 

Relevant Readings (see for a more exhaustive list):

Schwarz D, Lebedev MA, Tate A, Hanson T, Lehew G, Melloy J, Dimitrov D, Nicolelis MAL. Chronic, Wireless Recordings of Large Scale Brain Activity in Freely Moving Rhesus Monkeys. Nat. Methods doi:10.1038/nmeth.2936, 2014.

Thomson EE, Carra R, Nicolelis MAL. Perceiving Invisible Light through a Somatosensory Cortical Prosthesis. Nat. Commun.10.1038/ncomms2497, 2013.

Ifft P, Shokur S, Li Z, Lebedev MA, Nicolelis MAL. A Brain-Machine Interface Enables Bimanual Arm Movements in Monkeys. Sci. Transl. Med. 5: 210, DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3006159, 2013.

Shokur S, O’Doherty J.E., Winans J.A., Bleuler H., Lebedev M.A., Nicolelis M.A.L. Expanding the primate body schema in sensorimotor cortex by virtual touches of an avatar. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110: 15121-6, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1308459110, 2013.

O’Doherty JE, Lebedev MA, Ifft PJ, Zhuang KZ, Shokur S, Bleuler H, Nicolelis MAL. Active tactile exploration enabled by a brain-machine-brain interface. Nature 479: 228-231, 2011.

Fuentes R, Petersson P, Siesser WB, Caron MG, Nicolelis MAL. Spinal Cord Stimulation Restores Locomotion in Animal Models of Parkinson’s disease. Science 323: 1578-82, 2009.

Pereira A, Ribeiro S, Wiest M, Moore LC, Pantoja J, Lin S-C, Nicolelis MAL. Processing of tactile information by the  hippocampus. PNAS 104: 18286-18291 (Epub) November 2007.

Krupa DJ, Wiest, MC, Laubach M, Nicolelis MAL Layer specific somatosensory cortical activation during active tactile discrimination   Science 304: 1989-1992, 2004.

Nicolelis MAL, Dimitrov DF, Carmena J, Crist R, Lehew G, Kralik J, Wise S. Chronic, multi-site, multi-electrode recordings in macaque monkeys. PNAS 100: 11041-11046, 2003.

Nicolelis MAL. Actions from thoughts. Nature 409: 403-407, 2001.
This Hangout On Air is hosted by Science on Google+. The live video broadcast will begin soon.
Brain-Machine and Brain-Brain Interface
Tue, May 5, 3:30 PM
Hangouts On Air - Broadcast for free

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Thanks for sharing! Let us know if you want to join the HOA.
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Ok +Google, the new Contacts web app looks slick and that's great. But after 12 seconds I found a problem that also occurs in your almost perfect Inbox program as well. When there is a popup for a label, or in Contacts a group, the popup list does not respond to text search! How can we use a scrollable popup with dozens of entries if we can't search it, it's not in order either. This is something that should be easy to fix but it's essential for these tools to work. Basically the only reason I still use Gmail instead of Inbox is that I can't easily label an email using a few keystrokes. I love the ability to delay emails for later, the integration of tasks into email. Now it looks like contacts will integrate too with this new interface. But you have to fix this. </endrant>
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Assistant Professor
  • University of Waterloo
    Assistant Professor, 2015 - present
    Assistant Professor in the Software Group of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo.
  • Oregon State University
    Postdoctoral Scholar, 2012 - 2014
  • University of British Columbia
    Graduate Student, 2003 - 2012
  • IBM Canada
    Software Engineer, 1999 - 2003
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Big Data. Big Decisions. Big Ideas.
I'm a machine learning professor at the University of Waterloo. My research focusses on large scale planning under uncertainty for spatial dynamic systems. One major motivation of my research is ecological planning problems such as managing forest fires and invasive species in river networks but these types of problems arise in infectious disease control, natural resource management and urban planning as well. See my academic website for more information.

- You can find all my Academic Publications here
- I manage The CompSust Blog for Cornell's Institute for Computational Sustainability. The blog highlights research and news in this exciting new field. (twitter: @compsust)
- My Computationally Thinking blog focusses on explaining computer science and artificial intelligence news. (twitter: @compthink)
- My PopTheStack blog focusses on politics and democratic reform, primarily in Canada. I also have many of these posts published on the Huffington Post Canada. (twitter: @rateldajer)

Community/Page Curator
Other Interests
I'm also very interested in Astronomy, Game Theory, Behavioural Economics and Philosophy. 

I am currently looking for positions in industry or Academia. If you think I'd be a good fit in your organization check out my LinkedIn and Mendeley profiles or get in touch.

Feel free to drop me a line on one of my blogs or Google+ if you want to chat about one of these topics.

  • University of British Columbia
    Computer Science (PhD, Msc), 2005 - 2012
  • University of British Columbia
    Computer Science (MSc), 2003 - 2005
  • York University
    Computer Science (BA), 1995 - 1999
Mark Crowley's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Great food. Fried seafood in nice salads. Beautiful spot on the main scenic street. Would come back.
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
Perfectly fine service, efficient and correct whenever I go.
Public - 2 months ago
reviewed 2 months ago
OK, so that was the most fantastic brunch sandwich I've had in ages. Order up front, get "the brunches and don't look back.
Public - 5 months ago
reviewed 5 months ago
51 reviews
Great coffee and tea, great vegan food.
Public - 2 months ago
reviewed 2 months ago
Good solid Korean food, great bimbimbap and beef bulgogi.
Public - 11 months ago
reviewed 11 months ago
Jakes is in a very cool part of town and sitting in the Wood panelled booths makes you feel like it's the 1920s again. The food is fresh and well prepared by not exciting. We had the crab and artichoke dip, crab/shrimp cakes and crawfish penne. They were all pretty good but not amazing. The pasta in particular could have used more flavour.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago