Wednesday, February 27, 2019

AI and Reasoning about a new Meta

Both regulatory action (including export controls) and efforts to promote activity in AI have been hilarious jokes. Part of this is the nature of the problem: AI and ML are a general set of techniques that became possible when we had enough of both compute and data in one place.

Regulating the data that feeds into AI at first makes more sense than trying to regulate Tensorflow chips, which at best are a cost-savings mechanism, or the ML algorithms since we honestly don't know how they work anyways, or even the final product, which can be trivially reproduced by someone with the data.

But regulating "large useful databases" runs into a number of other problems. How much data is "too much"? Do you only regulate labeled databases? What if someone exports and then COMBINES two databases?  What if someone exports the labels separately from the databases?

The larger question then becomes: Can we build a stable human society that does not depend on controlling the spread of technology? 

Or even an easier, but still frustrating question: Is the shape of the way human societies work predictable, based on what we know of new technology? 

Every so often they introduce a new character into Overwatch, or manipulate the values of various character's skills. And professional teams then analyze them and try to figure out how to gain non-obvious advantages. The "working set" of characters is then called "The Meta". But why can't this be calculated ahead of time? Why did it take some random team named "GOATS" to realize you don't need any DPS characters at all to be unstoppable? 

This problem has been gnawing at me for a while. It's seemingly easy at first, but then requires a complex enough model that you are afraid you're just going to monte carlo it, which feels like failure. It's possible there's a more clever AI-based solution.

I fall into the crowd of people who think AI is the solution to everything - if for no other reason than the more you look at science itself, the more you think we will need an artificial brain to help us make forward progress. These days you have to micro-specialize in any field. But an Scientist-AI would not have to, and I feel like that's the race every country SHOULD be on, as opposed to trying to figure out how to integrate AI into battle planning or specialized sensor networks. In that sense the Meta leans towards teams who have an AI to help them figure out the Meta...

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