Book review: The Alignment Problem

Probably you’ve heard about reinforcement learning in conversations on AI. It originates from psychology and animal behaviourism, like so many other parts of the field of AI (neural networks and temporal differences are two others), while others touch philosophical issues and conundrums humans have pondered on for centuries. Brian Christian, like Johan Harri, travels the world to interview lots of people about how to get machines to understand and obey humans. 

At the parliament

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Swedish Parliament (Sveriges riksdag) to attend an award ceremony. My supervisor got the School for social sciences at Södertörn University to nominate my bachelor’s thesis for an award issued by the Swedish Parliament.

On long, hard thoughts

Right now The Ezra Klein Show has a series of podcast episodes on artificial intelligence (just like early 2023). Yesterday I listened to the discussion with Nilay Patel (of course I recommend it). Among the things they discussed was how hard thinking was at risk of being discarded with the introduction of A.I. programs such as ChatGPT 4 or Claude.

Book review: How To Do Nothing

Jenny Odell, an artist and former teacher at Stanford University, wrote a book on how to do nothing (resisting the attention economy), published in 2019, on… many things. Usually, it’s classified as related to technology (and/or science), which can confuse a reader like me, because it’s not about merely about tech’s (contemporary) inherent obsession with attention, but about being present, bonding with and relating to other beings, forgetting yourself.

The debate on hybrid warfare and Russia

During the conference Society and defense (Folk och Försvar), the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces said that the Swedish people must acknowledge the contingency of war. It caused an outcry. Presumably, this is posed as a fact to make people realize that we cannot be the ever-present observer, never involved or engaged in truly troublesome things with exogenous causes. We tend to have an immunized perception of catastrophes. What disturbs me is rather how the term of hybrid warfare is used. It’s misleading, to say the least.

Book review: Fancy Bear Goes Phishing

As soon as I noticed a book published with this savvy title this year, I knew I had to read it: Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in five Extraordinary Hacks. In his youth, Scott J. Shapiro spent much time with computers, but later chose a career in philosophy and law. When writing about cyberwar, he returned to computers, re-learning programming and computer science. Attempting to answer the simple questions of why the Internet is insecure, how do hackers exploit insecurity and how they can be prevented, or at least decreased in numbers, Shapiro takes us on a journey with five stops, from the late 1980’s to the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and the Minecraft wars.

Swedish economy – still in free fall

Listening to certain “experts” is like watching a very bleak comedy, French style. They seem bent on negating anything that proves a crisis is coming. The employment rate is going strong, the housing market will soon rise again, Riksbanken (the central bank) won’t increase the interest rate further… If you borrow too much money, one day you’ll have to pay.