Rachel Gutin Profile picture
Jul 18, 2019 15 tweets 3 min read Read on X
The seventh panel I attended at #Readercon was "Compassionate AI," with @WriteTeachPlay, @mattkressel, @eilatan, and Kestrell Verlager, moderated by @tithenai. This panel was at 10 AM on Saturday and worth waking up for. It was also on Shabbat, which has note-taking implications.
I'm a Jew who keeps Shabbat in a way that precludes writing. This means I had to hold all of the key points in my mind until after Shabbat, when I could write that down. For more info on how I do that, check out this thread:
The short, short version: I attach the notes to an image in my mind. This means I remember key points, but not the order they were said in, definitely not direct quotes, and usually not who said what either. With that in mind, here are my take-aways from this panel:
Something to consider: When we say "compassionate AI," compassionate to whom? (Our biases get included in programming.)
One panelist brought up values alignment: we want the AI's values to match our own.
The idea of compassionate AI is not a new one in SF. It's been around for a while.
Our current expectation is that AI will communicate with us like humans, in a natural-feeling interaction. This is what programs like Siri and Alexa aim for.
AI arrive at their intelligence/awareness via a different path than humans. For example, they might examine every possible path before figuring out what works.
A lot of times, how an AI or bot reaches its current response set is unknown. It's a black box, and that's disturbing.
Most programming is done in English, which comes with limitations, biases, and barriers to access.
AI can restrict human paths too, how humans interact with the world. For example, when you book a plane ticket, you have to choose a gender: male or female. There aren't any other options offered.
The panelists discussed the idea of "raising" an AI like we raise kids. Different people will have different parenting styles.
When raising AIs, we're raising very rich kids, because it's expensive.
In addition to viewing AIs as children to be raised, we can view them as our teachers, or as a godlike power watching over us.
Bonus content: On Saturday evening, I was chatting with @WriteTeachPlay, and he noted something that didn't get said during the panel: There are two possible funding sources for AI development: wealthy people/corporations, and universities. We should encourage the latter.

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More from @Rachel_Gutin

Dec 25, 2020
For those of us who aren’t celebrating Christmas, I would like to share a story:
In a small Jewish community on an outlying planet sits a museum. At its center, a narrow plinth. Upon the plinth, a boxy container, folded from heavy white paper, its edges charred. A wire handle across its top.

The label reads: In Commemoration of the Great Christmas Alliance
There is no further explanation posted, but ask any museum staff member, and they will tell you the tale of the time when Chinese food saved the Jews from boredom and despair, on the occasion of yet another Christmas.
Read 26 tweets
Sep 22, 2020
This Rosh Hashanah, my thoughts kept returning to a single story. It’s the story of a soul, newly arrived at the gates of Heaven And while I’m not sure I believe in a literal heaven, with an actual gate where angels stand guard, a story doesn’t have to be factual to be true.
So a woman arrives at the gates of Heaven. She is small of stature, but she stands tall before the imposing gates. A simple black robe hangs from her shoulders, and a lacy white collar adorns her neck. In her eyes, there is a gleam of steely determination.
In most stories, this is when the angels would stop her. They would ask her to prove she deserves a place in Heaven. But in this story, the angels step aside.
Read 15 tweets
Aug 23, 2020
After nearly five months at my parents’ house, I am finally back in my own apartment.

The first thing I unpacked: stuff that needed refrigeration.

Next: my laptop.

After that, books.

Here are all the books that spent time at my parents’ house. 39 books in three stacks, s...
And here are the books that I read while I was at my parents’ house: 26 books in two stacks, spi...
I also purchased a total of 18 books, 17 of which were shipped to my parents' house, and one of which I picked up while traveling.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 21, 2020
The eighth panel I attended at #ConZealand this year wasn’t technically a panel. It was a dialogue between @doctorow and @Ada_Palmer entitled “Corey Doctorow and Ada Palmer Discuss Censorship and Information Control”

I learned a lot from their conversation.
This thread will include some of the things the two of them said. I’m copying this over from my handwritten notes, so assume I’ve paraphrased unless I put something in quotes.
From @Ada_Palmer: Every time there’s new media technology, people worry about the new one and forget to censor older ones. Censorship focuses on the newest saturate media - and on where people get political information from.
Read 31 tweets
Aug 14, 2020
The seventh panel I attended at #ConZealand this year was “Justice in Science Fiction and Fantasy”, with @BrentCLambert, @AdriJjy, @MMSnodgrass, and Fred Lerner, moderated by @jennlyonsauthor.

This panel gave me a lot to think about.
This thread will include some of the things the panelists said. I’m copying this over from my handwritten notes, so assume I’ve paraphrased unless I put something in quotes.
The panelists began by listing pet peeves about how justice is handled in science fiction and fantasy:

@AdriJjy: I want more about societal institutions and systemic things rather than an individual. And I hate the bad guy getting redeemed by dying.
Read 32 tweets
Aug 13, 2020
The sixth panel I attended at #ConZealand this year was “Infinite Entangled Futures - Indigenous Voices in Conversation,” with @ShiningComic, @RoanhorseBex, @understatesmen and @toniwaiaroha, moderated by @sloanesloane.

This was a fascinating and enjoyable panel.
This thread will include some of the things the panelists said. I’m copying this over from my handwritten notes, so assume I’ve paraphrased unless I put something in quotes.
First, the panelists introduced themselves. Among other things, each shared which indigenous tribe they are a part of. Because most of these tribal names were unfamiliar to me, I didn’t know how to spell them, so I looked them up afterward on author websites and twitter.
Read 49 tweets

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