Lake Tali Karng, nestled deep within the alpine region of Victoria, Australia is a serene and very deep lake in a rugged, bush landscape. Our adventure began near Licola a small town approximately 250 kilometres east of Melbourne. The town itself is a base for hikers and hunter and fisher types, with a general store, a caravan park, and a campsite (and not much else). After a long drive from Melbourne, my hiking buddies and I set off on the 20-kilometre Wellington Plains track, following the path through boggy open plains.
The first day of our hike was a moderate trek, perfect for warming up our legs for the more challenging terrain ahead. As we made our way through the expansive plains, we were greeted by weird Australian Jurassic wildflowers , their vibrant colours contrasting beautifully against the hues of the grasslands. The open skies and vast landscapes provided us with a sense of freedom from a world with too many digital screens. We set up camp, and ditched the heavy backpacks ready for the descent to the lake in the morning.
On the second day, the terrain grew steeper, and the vegetation denser with each passing kilometre. Our reward for the strenuous ascent was the panoramic vista of the surrounding mountains and valleys periodically enveloped in clouds. The trail led us through eucalyptus forests, accompanied by the symphony of birdsong . As we navigated the rugged terrain, the first glimpse of Lake Tali Karng came into view .
The ancient lake is a sacred site for the indigenous Gunaikurnai people, the pristine waters and rugged landscapes are mystical and we felt immense reverence and awe.
We climbed the steep track back to the Nyimba Campground, and spent the night there before the trek over Wellington Plains and back to Licola in the morning.
GPT-4, the fourth iteration of OpenAI’s Generative text system, has a fresh, multimodal language model. It was officially launched on March 14, 2023, and made accessible to ChatGPT Plus subscribers. Prior to its public release, Microsoft had already integrated GPT-4 into certain versions of Bing. As a model, GPT-4 underwent pre-training using a combination of public and licensed data, followed by fine-tuning through reinforcement learning guided by human feedback (this would be a horrible job).
OpenAI has refrained from disclosing the model size due to the competitive nature of the AI industry and potential safety concerns related to large-scale models. There were speculations that GPT-4’s parameters would increase dramatically from GPT-3’s 175 billion to 100 trillion, a claim that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman dismissed as false.
GPT-4 outperforms GPT-3.5 in terms of reliability, and the ability to process complex instructions. GPT-4 can work with up to 25,000 words of text, which marks a considerable advancement over previous versions. GPT-4 demonstrates significant accuracy improvements compared to GPT-3.5, developing the capacity to summarise and interpret images, and condense complex texts. However, it still occasionally generates bullshit!
Our seven-day journey through the South Island of New Zealand was a crazy road trip, replete with unforgettable natural eye candy. Here’s the lowdown on our daily itinerary:
Day 1: Christchurch to Methven
Our journey began at Christchurch airport, where we snagged a beat-up rental car. The rental car was a death trap on wheels, rattling and shaking with each turn of the wheel. Its paint job was fading, and the interior was a mess of stained upholstery. But it was cheap, so we took our chances and hit the road. From there, we made our way to Methven, where we set up camp in the agricultural showgrounds. Our digs were rustic yet functional – a simple shelter from the harsh elements.
Day 2: Methven to Mount Cook
On day two, we navigated through the rugged terrain of Mount Cook, a stunning alpine region where towering peaks and glaciers abound. Our mission was to tackle the Hooker Valley track, a moderate hike that led us through mesmerizing landscapes of rivers, mountains, and glaciers. The hike was a real test of our tourist-intolerant mettle, but the vistas were worth every arduous step.
Day 3: Mount Cook to Kingston
We continued our journey on day three, driving through the region’s rolling hills and verdant farmland. The weather was uncooperative, but we soldiered on, forging ahead through the rain and fog of a New Zealand summer.
Day 4: Kingston to Milford Sound
Rising early on day four, we hopped in the car and made our way to Milford Sound fjord. It is a place of mystical allure and enchantment, a testament to nature’s raw, untamed beauty. Its towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls are awe-inspiring, evoking a sense of wonder and reverence that is hard to articulate. As the waters of the fjord reflect the majesty of the surrounding mountains, you can feel the very essence of the earth pulsing around you, filling you with a sense of timeless connection to this bizarro land. We settled into our humble abode at the Cascade Creek Campsite, which was basic, but we were ensconced in a lush rain forest as it rained.
Day 5: Milford Sound to Haast via Queenstown
On day five, we traversed the gorgeous route from Milford Sound to Haast via the bogan fantasy town of Queenstown. The road was a labyrinth of coastal vistas and snow-capped mountain ranges – a feast for the starved urban-screen senses.
Day 6: Haast to Otira (Arthurs Pass)
Our journey took us from Haast to Otira, a tiny hamlet in the heart of Arthurs Pass. We had a strange encounter at the Otira Hotel, where the barman took pity on us and let us stay in a nearby house for a hundred bucks. The place was old and spooky, but we revelled in the eerie ambience. There was a big sign at the entrance of the town that said keep off the Class As.
Day 7: Otira to Christchurch
On our final day, we embarked on the Bealey Valley walking track in the Arthurs Pass National Park, a fitting end to our wild journey through the unspoiled landscapes of the South Island. The hike was easy and empty of tourists, and they often don’t go together.
We emerged from our Jurrasic journey into the Middle Kingdom with a newfound appreciation for New Zealand and its South Island. This will be a long conversation with many more adventures!
Prompt: Write a 500 word academic article about the AI concept of Singularity. Be certain to use high-quality academic texts and cite them. Please acknowledge the founders and contributors to the theory
The concept of Singularity in AI refers to a hypothetical future where technology growth is out of control and irreversible .It is often associated with the idea that machines will surpass human intelligence, leading to a fundamental societal change. However, there are different conceptions of what this might look like .Some researchers focus on developing artificial general intelligence (AGI), which could perform any intellectual task that a human can do. Others argue that Singularity is more about the permeation of AI into all aspects of life rather than intelligence per se .
The idea of Singularity has been around for several decades and popularized by science fiction writers such as Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil to describe a time when technological progress would become so rapid that it would be impossible to predict what would come next . Kurzweil expanded on this idea in his book “The Singularity Is Near”, arguing that we are approaching a point where machines will surpass human intelligence, leading to a radical transformation of society.
Despite its popularity, the concept of Singularity remains controversial. Some researchers argue that it is unlikely to happen, while others warn of the dangers of such a scenario .
One concern is that machines could become so intelligent that they would be impossible to control, leading to unintended consequences . Another worry is that AI could be used for malicious purposes, such as cyberattacks or autonomous weapons .
Despite these concerns, many researchers continue to work on developing AGI and other advanced forms of AI. Some argue that these technologies could benefit society by improving healthcare or reducing carbon emissions. However, it is vital to proceed cautiously and consider the potential risks associated with these technologies.
In conclusion, the concept of Singularity in AI refers to a hypothetical future where technology growth is out of control and irreversible. While science fiction writers and futurists have popularized this idea, it remains controversial among researchers. Some argue that it is unlikely to happen or warn of the dangers associated with such a scenario. Others believe that advanced forms of AI could benefit society significantly if developed responsibly.
A basic graph representation of the technological Singularity
This Wikipedia article provides an overview of technological Singularity, which refers to the hypothetical future point at which artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and leads to unpredictable and exponential technological growth.
This article from Popular Mechanics explains the concept of technological Singularity and explores the potential consequences of artificial intelligence reaching this point. The article discusses the benefits and risks of such a scenario and examines the current state of AI development.
This article from VentureBeat explores the development of generative AI and its potential implications for the future of artificial intelligence. The article argues that generative AI may only be a precursor to technological Singularity and that there is still much to learn about AI’s potential capabilities and risks.
This article from MDPI examines different conceptions of artificial intelligence and technological Singularity. The authors explore various definitions of AI and Singularity and discuss these concepts’ philosophical and ethical implications.
Tasmania’s Overland Track is one of Australia’s most renowned hiking trails. It spans over 65 kilometres, from Cradle Mountain in Tasmania’s north to Lake St Claire in the South. The hike is an adventure that takes you through stunning landscapes, and the reward of finishing the journey is an odd feeling of accomplishment. We embarked on this hike during the hiking season, from October to May (when you need to book the track). The weather is cold to mild during this time, and it is necessary to be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions, such as snow and sleet. We packed our backpacks with essentials, including a first aid kit, warm sleeping bags (to minus 5 celsius), dehydrated food, and plenty of water and snacks to fuel the journey.
Day 1: Ronny Creek to Waterfall Valley (4-6 hours 10.7 kms)
After checking in at the Visitors Centre and getting a track briefing from a stern Ranger, we set off on the track. The first few kilometres were tough, with a steep climb up the Central Plateau. As we walked, we saw spectacular views of Cradle Mountain, an enduring symbol of Tasmania’s wilderness. Hiking up Cradle Mountain was an optional side trip. Still, we decided to save our energy for the days ahead (plus, it started to rain). The trail kept its incline, and the real challenge of the hike began. The terrain became rocky and rugged, and we had to be mindful of every step. After several hours of hiking, we reached the Waterfall Valley hut, our resting place for the night. It was a fancy eco-new hut with all the necessary amenities, including a kitchen area, toilets, and bunk beds. We set up our tent, prepared a dehydrated meal, and sat outside to view the surrounding mountains.
Day 2: Waterfall Valley to Windermere (2.5-3.5 hours, 7.8 kms)
The second day was a shorter hike, but we had to cross the highest point on the Overland Track, the Du Cane Range. The walk was steep, and the terrain was rough, but the views from the top were worth it. We could see Lake Will, Barn Bluff, and Cradle Mountain in the distance. There was an optional side trip to visit Lake Will and Barn Bluff, but we decided to rest at the top and take in the beauty of the surroundings. As we descended from the range, the path became more comfortable, and we made our way to Windermere. The hike was through the forest, and we saw several creeks and waterfalls. We reached Windermere hut in the afternoon, and I took the opportunity to rest and explore the area. It was a peaceful and serene place, and we felt re-energised for the next day’s hike.
Day 3: Windermere to Pelion (5-7 hours, 16.8 Kms)
On the third day of the hike, we had to hike through diverse landscapes, including plains, rainforests, and alpine regions. It was a long hike, and we encountered several steep inclines. However, the views from the top were breathtaking, and it made every step worthwhile. We could take a side trip to the Old Pelion Hut, an important historical site, as we approached Pelion. It was a chance to learn about the history of the area and the early pioneers who lived there. We finally reached the ‘new’ Pelion Hut, one of the older huts but still better than nothing!
Day 4: Pelion to Kia Ora (3-4 hours, 8.6 kms)
The fourth day of the hike was shorter, covering a distance of 8.6 km. Though there was an option for a side trip to Mount Oakleigh, Mount Ossa, or Mount Pelion East, we decided to skip it and enjoy the scenery. The hike took us through some spectacular rainforests with towering trees and lush vegetation. We crossed several creeks and waterfalls, making for a scenic and peaceful journey. We arrived at Kia Ora hut in the afternoon, ready for a well-deserved rest.
Day 5: Kia Ora to Narciuss Ferry (8-9 hours, 18.9 kms)
On the fifth and final day of the hike, we covered a distance of 18.6 km as the ferry left early the next morning, and we didn’t want to miss it. We started at Kia Ora and hiked to the Bert Nichols Hut, where we had a disgusting cheese and noodle lunch (food was running low, and the Possums were starting to look good). We then continued our hike to Narcissus Ferry Jetty, which took us 5 hours on the hottest day of the journey. The scenery along the way was mostly bushland, but it widened to grassy plans right at the end (and the rocky, rooted path was hell. I never want to see a tree root again). We arrived at the ferry jetty in the afternoon, feeling tired but exhilarated after completing the challenging and rewarding Overland Track hike. We caught the ferry the next morning to go and get the chips.
As I reflect on my journey on the Overland Track, I’m reminded of the beauty and fragility of our fabulous blue planet. It’s up to us to preserve the natural world for future generations to enjoy. Hiking through this pristine wilderness, I felt a sense of peace and connection to nature that’s often missing in our fast-paced modern world. Let us all strive to live in harmony with the environment and seek out way-cool experiences that allow us to connect with the natural world before it is too late.
“The Atlas of AI” by Kate Crawford examines how artificial intelligence (AI) shapes our world, particularly regarding the AI industry’s broader social and economic context. She uses the metaphor of an atlas to describe the landscape in which AI is produced. Crawford, a leading AI researcher and scholar (and musician and artist). Originally from Sydney and Canberra, she now lives in New York. I know her from the B(if)tek days.
Crawford takes readers on a journey through the history of AI, from its earliest origins to the present day, highlighting the key developments and innovations that have led to the field’s current state. Crawford also provides a detailed examination of the ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding AI, including topics such as bias and accountability.
The book is noteworthy for its attention to the impact of AI on marginalised communities and low-income populations. Crawford argues that these groups are disproportionately affected by the negative consequences of AI and that it is crucial to consider their perspectives in developing and deploying AI technologies.
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark (2017)
“Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark is a valuable addition to the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence (AI) literature. The book provides a comprehensive and multidisciplinary examination of the implications of AI surpassing human intelligence and the ethical considerations that must be considered as we move towards this reality.
One of the book’s strengths is Tegmark’s ability to provide a thorough overview of the current state of AI research, its potential trajectory of development, and the implications of such advancements. He draws on his background in physics and AI research to provide a nuanced understanding of the technical aspects of AI, making the book accessible to a wide range of academic audiences. Additionally, the author offers a detailed analysis of the various perspectives on the future of AI, including the potential benefits and drawbacks of superintelligent machines and the ethical considerations surrounding such advancements.
Tegmark also addresses the potential societal implications of AI, including job displacement, economic inequality, and the need for international cooperation and regulation in the development and use of AI. He argues that proactive steps must be taken to ensure that the benefits of AI are distributed fairly and that the negative consequences are mitigated. This is a significant contribution to the existing literature on the ethics of AI, as it highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to the governance and regulation of AI.
One of the book’s most exciting aspects is Tegmark’s discussion of the possibility of creating a “friendly” AI, which would be aligned with human values and goals. He explores the challenges and potential solutions for achieving this, including the need for transparency and explainability in AI systems and the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives in the design and development of AI. This is a crucial contribution to the existing literature on the ethics of AI, as it highlights the need for responsible and inclusive AI design.
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (2014)
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom is a thought-provoking and insightful book that delves into the potential implications of artificial intelligence on humanity. The book explores the idea of a superintelligent AI, which is an AI that is significantly more intelligent than any human, and the potential consequences of such an AI’s existence.
One of the book’s central themes is the concept of a “control problem,” ensuring that a superintelligent AI remains aligned with human values and goals. Bostrom argues that this is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed before any superintelligent AI is developed, as an AI not aligned with human values could potentially pose a significant threat to humanity.
Another important theme of the book is the idea of “existential risks,” which could potentially lead to the extinction of human civilisation. Bostrom argues that developing a superintelligent AI could pose such a risk and that it is, therefore, important for researchers and policymakers to take proactive measures to minimise these risks.
One of the strengths of Superintelligence is Bostrom’s ability to present complex ideas in a clear and accessible manner. He provides a thorough overview of the current state of AI research and a detailed analysis of the potential implications of a superintelligent AI. The book is also well-researched, and Bostrom draws on many sources to support his arguments.
Overall, Superintelligence is an essential and thought-provoking book that contributes to the ongoing debate about the future of AI. It is a must-read for anyone interested in AI, machine learning, and the future of humanity.
Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI by John Brockman (editor) 2019
Possible Minds: Twenty-Five Ways of Looking at AI, edited by John Brockman, is a thought-provoking collection of essays exploring artificial intelligence’s current and future possibilities. The book features contributions from a diverse group of experts in the field, including computer scientists, philosophers, economists, and cognitive psychologists.
One of the standout features of the book is the breadth of perspectives represented. Each essay offers a unique perspective on AI, from its technical capabilities and limitations to its ethical and societal implications. This diversity of viewpoints allows for a well-rounded understanding of the topic, highlighting AI’s potential benefits and risks.
One of the key themes that emerge from the book is the importance of human-AI collaboration. Many authors argue that AI should be viewed as a tool to augment human capabilities rather than as a replacement for human intelligence. This perspective is especially relevant in light of the rapid advancements in AI technology and its increasing role in various aspects of our lives.
Another important theme is the need for responsible and ethical use of AI. The authors discuss the potential risks of AI, such as job displacement, privacy concerns, and the possibility of creating biased or unfair systems. They also explore the need for regulations and governance to ensure that AI is developed and used to benefit society.
Possible Minds provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of AI and its potential future developments. It is an excellent resource for anyone interested in understanding the implications of this rapidly-evolving technology.