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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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Hey G+, it's been a while. What have I missed?
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Nothing aparently 
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Mark Crowley

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On Monday, get out of bed half an hour early to do a little bit of planning how to vote. Find your voter information card to find out where to vote or if you don’t have one type in your postal code here. Determine when you’re going to vote, before work,…
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My partner and I vote together, and is the time of year that we fight, we do not agree on politics.
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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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Mark Crowley

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I didn't know the Allium existed. Now I do.
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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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Mark Crowley

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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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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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Have him in circles
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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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Best chinese food in town.
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So good. Just like I remember, it's been years.
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Perfectly fine service, efficient and correct whenever I go.
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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.
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53 reviews
Great food. Fried seafood in nice salads. Beautiful spot on the main scenic street. Would come back.
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Great coffee and tea, great vegan food.
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Good solid Korean food, great bimbimbap and beef bulgogi.
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