14
Dec
09

The New Miss SA might Be a Cyborg…

We were flipping randomly through TV channels last night when we came across the crucial last two minutes that were the Miss SA Pageant 2009. We missed the entire rest of the show, which was a pity – I would have loved to have heard this year’s winner, Nicole Flint being interviewed by the panel of judges because I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s a cyborg.

 

 

Wikipedia defines a cyborg as ‘is a cybernetic organism (i.e., an organism that has both artificial and natural systems).’ Many have argued that cyborgs are the next step in human evolution, as they represent a kind of perfect union between humans and machines, an occurrence that is referred to as ‘the singularity’ (Ray Kurzweil was one of the first dudes to define the term).

It’s actually scary how close we’ve come to designing realistic artificial intelligence. Right now, machines have two massive advantages over humans when it comes to ‘thinking’ – they have perfect recall (well, until their hard drives fail) and they can process computations at speeds way beyond human brains.

 

 

The only major problem machines have is that their ability to recognise patterns is severely limited in comparison to human brains. This extends into all facets of life – a human can observe a certain phenomenon occurring at a certain place and time and use all that information to predict that this incidence could occur again if similar variables come into play again.

For example, I could observe a car accident that has happened at the corner of William Nicol and Sandton Drive in the early hours of a rainy Saturday morning and the first thing that goes through my head is ‘Holy shit, I need to stay the hell away from this intersection in the early hours of the morning when it’s raining or I could end up like those guys.’

For me, this prediction was effortless, all I employed was a fairly basic degree of common sense based on a set of circumstances I observed and my ability to read the pattern of those circumstances. Machine intelligence would struggle to arrive at the same outcome I did in that situation.

Sure, a machine could tell me the exact speed the cars were travelling, the angle at which they collided, the trajectory of the collided cars, the force of the impact, but the machine would struggle to process ALL of the information of the accident and be able to instantly recognise the patterns inherent in the accident and understand their meaning.

This is why it is unlikely that machines will ever be able to understand or experience human emotions, and that was the first clue I picked up as to why the new Miss SA might be a cyborg.

 

 

The three finalists of the pagaent, Matapa Malla 24, from Johannesburg, Lisa van Zyl, 23 year old from Cape Town and Nicole Flint 21, from Pretoria sat on stage as they announced this year’s winner, each one of them smiling flawlessly, betraying no emotion whatsoever.

Fair enough, as a  beauty queen I’m sure you spend countless years learning not to show any kind of real emotion, but then the thing that really blew my mind was when they announced Flint as the winner, her smile remained completely fixed throughout.

Call me old school, but I preferred it when the winners covered their pretty little faces with their immaculately manicured hands and at least shed one or two little tears of sheer joy and nervous excitement. I mean seriously, it’s not a beauty pageant unless the winner has a bit of a cry, or am I way off the mark here?

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I think ol’ Nicole Flint definitely deserved to win, I mean hell’s bells, she’s a good looking woman, but she was so damn controlled throughout it looked like she was wandering around in a walking Prozac-induced coma.

Don’t be surprised people, if amongst other news headlines about Castor Semenya being transgendered and Julius Malema being trans-specied, we read that Nicole Flint IS THE 6 MILLION RAND WOMAN!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉

-ST

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2 Responses to “The New Miss SA might Be a Cyborg…”


  1. December 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    And the same goes for Miss World too. Miss Gibralter didn’t shed a tear throughout the winner’s announcments and she, I’d say, expressed even less emotion than Miss SA.

    Miss SA is clearly a T-1000, but Miss World is still old technology, a T-600 maybe…?

    Seriously though, I don’t think that we’re far off from machines being able to discover patterns and even mimic human emotion.

    You see, by the pure definition of probablility, it’s highly probable that a machine could mimic a human emotion based on variables that, when combined, can lead to the correct emotional response by process of elimination.

    To use your example of the accident on William Nicol. A machine could take a look at the variables – the rain, the time of day, the number of cars on the road, the liklihood that somebody will be driving home from a jol early on a Saturday morning, and the liklihood that said driver is intoxicated.

    By utilsing Bayesian probability, the machines could compute a scenario where an accident could occur if all the variables where right – whichh would be one of thousands of possible scenarios based on the application of each variable.

    Apply Heuristics to the result of Bayesian probability and you’ve got a fairly accurate result, which is less likely to have any form of false positive because you’re cross-checking the scenario with two lots of probability measures – and this suddenly reduces the number of possible scenarios from thousands to, say, hundereds.

    Just saying, it’s not impossible. It may be one of hundreds of scenarios that the accident happend on that corner, at that time of the morning, with those wet road conditions, but that’s not to say that a computer could not have predicted it, and predict similar events more accuratley given the same cicumstances if the event did, in fact, occur.

    Bayesian and Heuristic probability form the basis for artificial intelligence, and it can only get better with time and I can guarantee that machines that “learn” will be high more likly to replicate a response based on varialbes and the outcomes of combining those variables.

    What you really need to worry about is self-awareness and the resulting disregard for Asimov’s laws of robotics where self-preservation takes presidence, even at the expense of human life – the fourth directive perhaps?

    Cyborgs will inherit the earth eventually. We’ve had robots in government for years already (look at Bush and Melema, they’re both animatronic muppets) but they;re both in powerful decision-making positions.

    It’s just a matter of time before cybrogs replace humans. But nothing will be different because they’ll all be very good at replicating human emotion. It’ll be as if humans never went extinct.

  2. December 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I say, the more cyborgs the better. I’d happily vote for a T-800 with artificial intelligence and a shotgun, than follow a complete-lack-of-intelligence-personified in Julius Malema.


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