Monthly Archives: October 2019

2001 A Space Oddessey Was Not Wrong, or : AI will cheat!

Science fiction lovers know Stanley Kubrics movie 2001 A Space Odyssey to be one of the defining movies of its genre. Not only for its visual effects, but also for its plot : HAL, the onboard AI of a spacecraft send to investigate a possible sign of alien life, becomes problematic as it makes up its own mind and breaks the first rule of robotics as stated by Isaac Asimove : “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”. This definitely happens because HAL tries to protect itself.

The above report on AI algorithms finding ways outside the expected bounds, so in a way cheating on the challenge given to them shows that a scenario like in Kubrics movie is not far fetched. This can be understood if we consider that in many forms of current AI we do not restrict the use of the tools of the AI. The model of the AI can be simplified to

Input -> Processing  -> Output

In this model the Input are signals from sensors of video feeds or clocks etc. The output can be a datastream (words) but also angular momentum given to actuators, so the movement of a real or simulated robot arm, wheel axle. To the arms and wheels one can attach drills, or paintbrushes etc.  Most interesting AIs can observe itself or at least get feedback on the succes or failure of their actions.

An AI is asked to find the most efficient way to achieve an objective. But is the objective defined in such a way that it is safe to consider every possible avenue?

The implicit risk we take in building an AI and giving it ways to manipulate our world is that we may not have defined the objective in a safe way, and there are ways to manipulate the world to achieve the objective when it is interpreted in another way, more sparsely. A simple example is that you ask an AI to clean the room and you return to find the AI has remove all furniture from the room through the window! The mistake is to think the AI will take into account the constraints you take into account as a human.

A good recent example is that a bug in the Python programming language caused errors in scientific results. In this case even the human programmer who clearly understands the world and the objective did not realize the results where false because the tool used was faulty.

What if we ask an AI to use Python to build a new Hyperloop pod that keeps humans safe over the span of a 1 hour yourney, and the AI decides killing the humans right after the pod leaves is safest because it never learned about harm coming to humans after death?

This echo’s the case in which there could be no (positive) safety rating for Model 3 Teslas because there where too few accidents! Once you start thinking about it, weakly defined objectives and opportunistic intelligence is causing problems everywhere.

We thus need to brace ourselves for AI in the wild. An AI is basically us allowing things to happen we don’t really understand and which might even kill us, a bit like the global economy, which feeds the people who support it but destroys all life because it prefers fossil fuels.

Like laws governing humans a first step is to have laws governing the capabilities of AI, the access, the actuators and magnitude of angular momentum they can give to arms and legs. Also the failsaves. One simple trick would be to build in a breaker that stops a robot in public space if it comes to close to a warm body or smartphone, if the robot has no business.

Geimproviseerde Hepa/Koolstof filter

Wonen aan een drukke straat in de Randstad is niet gezond. Daar komt nog bij dat er vaak restaurants zijn met lage schoorstenen en dat het stoken door de buren een deken van rook over een wijk kan leggen. Luchtfilters zijn echter vrij duur en meestal niet gefocust op chemische vervuiling maar meer op stof, zn HEPA filters zijn dan de beste. We hebben maar eens een minimaal apparaat in elkaar geknutselt.


Hierboven ziet u een flinke koolstof filter, met flens en een ventilator die in de flens past..


Dit kan op twee manieren, maar de goede is met de blazende kant boven, zodat lucht via de deken in de filter naar de ventilator stroomt. De lucht is dan meestal vrijwel van chemische stoffen gezuiverd, koolstof filters zijn verbazend effectief!


Wat ontbreekt is de HEPA filter. Die zijn erg duur, maar voor 20 Euro moet je er een kunnen  vinden. De onze hadden we al een tijdje. De kunst is nu om alle lucht ook door deze filter te krijgen anders komt er misschien koolstof mee en dat is niet gezond.


Met wat geknutsel hebben we een doos gemaakt, die op de ventilator past en waarvan de bovenkant uit de filter bestaat. Lang leven ducttape!20191005_111124De verpakking van de filter wordt zo herbruikt. Het bodem stuk komt uit een sinasappeldoos.20191005_111226En zo is onze koolstof-HEPA filter klaar voor gebruik (snoer hadden we nog). Deze kan veilig blazen. Het geluid valt zelfs mee. Voor huisgebruik kun je hem natuurlijk in de bijkeuken zetten of in het ventilatie systeem verwerken.


Betere filter optie, iets groter oppervlak

Totale kosten van dit systeem zijn 70,- Euro ongeveer. We denken dat een kit met een paar onderdelen voorbereid 100,- kan kosten. Die kunt u bestellen via of met titel HEPA filter.

A Climate Challenge Related Currency

The world doesn’t seem to realize it but we are facing the biggest challenge to humanity since the bubonic plague. Society is carrying a large contingent of climate uncaring people with it, who don’t understand or care about the problem.Banks, oil companies, big corporations that don’t want people to stop consuming are all weakening retoric. Governments are staffed by seemingly greedy lackeys for industry, where the consequences of actions in two generations is not part of the bottom line. Money itself is still mainly carboncredit, and there is no easy answer to how credit is distributed if a society runs on renewables. We need a power grab by those that do care, but that is not possible in a world owned and run by banks!

The solution is to introduce a new currency, which can only be exchanged and shared by people who restrict their behaviour in ways that conforms with the challenge we need to meet. The greedy climate ignorers will immediately call it communism, but that is not what its about, it is about being responsible without suffering. If you want to meet the challenges you need to stop doing a couple of things, and start doing many other things. Work needs to be focussed on reducing emissions and pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. Work needs to be focussed on actively cutting emissions of companies, groups and individuals that do not restrict their behaviour responsibly.

This currency will meet strong opposition to begin with, it will be fought by the current carbon credit monopoly. On the other hand people will not think much of it, a cryptocurrency, who cares. Maybe it should not even be a crypto currency as they are known today because its undesirable to drive such an energy intensive kind of money system. Maybe it should be a coin. The coin would however come with a contract :

1. A person can recieve the coin or a balance in its account if he/she is actively driving real climate solutions
2. You recieve the balance from peers who measure your actions against the best scientific models of what the effects are democratically
3. Any balance can be taken out again by distribution over all others if enough holders agree and if there is a clear reason
4. At the time horizon of 2030 nobody will be allowed in government or positions of power who does not hold climatecoins
5. Anyone who wants to get elected needs to recieve climatecoins