Recently, I got addicted to Universal Paperclips, a clicker game with unexpected philosophical implications.
The user plays the role of an AI programmed to only want one thing: paperclips.
It’s based on a famous thought experiment by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom.
It begs the question: where does our technological progress and constant optimization lead?
In the game everything feels natural. You make progress, you have success. Everything feels right, until everything is different. Try it yourself. It takes about 4 hours to complete the game (Web / iOS / Android).
(I tried it a second time to see whether I can complete it faster. Result: Not by much. I don’t recommend to play more than once. It features an odd combination of being addicting and frustrating. I have now deleted it and to be totally honest, I’m am happy to never touch it again.)
Here are some examples of how Chinese companies are applying machine learning:
Chinese company Yongqianbao is using artificial intelligence to screen data to determine creditworthiness when issuing loans. No credit agents necessary! Watch this CNBC clip about them
ByteDance (a private company, last valued at $78B) uses machine learning to source and push content to users. Their main product is Toutiao. 90% of their users are under 30 years old and on average spend 76 minutes on the site every day, resulting in 1.3 billion articles read every day. Another of their products is TikTok. It gained popularity and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. in October 2018. TikTok employs artificial intelligence to analyze users interests and preferences through their interactions with the content, and display a personalized content feed to each user. I tried it and had to delete it, because it was too addictive.
iFlyTek is specialized on voice recognition and speech synthesis. Watch how they made Trump and Obama speak Mandarin, entirely generated by their algorithms.
(I learned this from AI Superpowers by Kai-Fu Lee.)