Politics in the Age of Artificial Idiocy
Not even the hardest proponent of ‘hard singularity’ expects a transition to machine intelligence that arrives in a simple step. Since the incremental baby steps are already well underway, it would be obviously ridiculous to do so, on straightforward factual grounds.
If silicon-substrate minds shift in stages, from dumb tools to super-intelligences, they can be confidently expected to pass through a period of synthetic cretinism. Is anybody preparing for that?
Machine translation might be the liveliest sand-pit for half-witted weirdness today. This is an area of obvious intelligent challenge, far subtler – or vaguer — than chess. By adopting heuristic principles that substitute pragmatic, statistical methods for sound conceptual understanding, progress has advanced at a surprisingly rapid pace, already arriving at an idiot prototype of Star Trek technology. Google Translate can usually generate something that is roughly intelligible. John Searle’s Chinese Room is up and running, or at least stumbling forwards, fast.
As machine translation smoothes out, its practical and theoretical impact is sure to be huge. Human linguistic competences are steadily side-lined, and with them the role of lingua francas. This trend has obvious significance for the global status and function of English.
It also has special relevance to the Chinese language. Since the origins of modernity, the techno-commercial imperative to digitization has presented special challenges to a non-alphabetic language, whose inconveniently numerous and elaborate pictographic units resist reduction to tidy typographic sets. This is the ‘Chinese Typewriter’ problem that Thomas S. Mullaney has doggedly explored. Machine translation changes its terms incalculably.
In the interim, however, a phase of babbling incompetence, semantic derangement, and communications chaos is upon us. Planetary chatter is bound to get a whole lot stranger.
Whilst engaged in online research on the topic of Marxism in China today, Urban Future ran into this cryptically-excited remark – in ‘English’. It is attributed to Jiang Jushi, but it has evidently been quite thoroughly machine-mashed. We aren’t remotely sure what it is telling us about the current state of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, but it’s rather illuminating on the contribution of digital intelligence to inter-cultural comprehension:
Nowadays, many party members, cadres, “the morning the car turn around, turn the plate around noon, the afternoon shuttle turn around, turn the evening around the skirt.” For example, A Who “Sando,” not only corruption, bribery, and one night, thought it outrageous that night, under the cover name of overtime in the office, the office lights on, but actually go out and touches his mistress secretly rendezvous. Such a person, all day thinking about is how to get lost, how to play a woman, how to get a woman. They are reading, not outside, such as ”Mai-phase method,“ ”Liuzhuang phase method,“ ”physiognomy Danian Ye full,“ ” meat futon,“ ”Motome Heart Sutra,“ ”Golden Lotus,“ ”the official after,” “thick black school”, “Zeng technique employing people know,” “Chiang Kai-shek of the machine to seek,” “Confucius, Crown Way,” ”Official Pitch culture and unspoken rules,“ ”teach you how to climb clever work,“ ”Book of Changes,“ ”yin and yang, Feng Shui,“ “character and the official transport,“ ”Office Feng Shui,“ ”gossip financial officer transported through the solution,” “the official transport peach,” “China ancient monarch and his Machiavellian Danian Ye Guan,” “Yu-person operation emperors” and other pollution seventy-eight bad book. Reading this book, can not worship bankruptcy? Character can not go wrong? Unexpectedly, depression can blog? Integrity can not decay?