Google’s Eric Schmidt: Don’t Fear the Artificially Intelligent Future


Google is making a prototype of its self-driving car that isn't made to be operated by humans. Photo: Google

Google is making a prototype of its self-driving car that isn’t made to be operated by humans. Google



Eric Schmidt wants you to know that robots are your friend.


That makes sense, considering that as chairman and former CEO of Google, Schmidt has been heavily involved in the development of some of the the world’s most sophisticated artificially intelligent systems, from the self-driving car to Google’s predictive search engine. The company even recently launched its own internal robotics lab. But while Schmidt admits sitting shotgun in the self-driving car is not an “altogether happy” experience (read: it’s terrifying), he also believes that all the fear of machines stealing jobs and taking over the world is unwarranted.


“These concerns are normal,” he said onstage during the Financial Times Innovate America event in New York City Tuesday. “They’re also to some degree misguided.”


According to Schmidt, people have been concerned about machines taking over the world for centuries. “Go back to the history of the loom. There was absolute dislocation,” he said, “but I think all of us are better off with more mechanized ways of getting clothes made.” Plus, he argued, in the past economies have prospered the more they adopt these new technologies. “There’s lots of evidence that when computers show up, wages go up,” he said. “There’s lots of evidence that people who work with computers are paid more than people without.”


The real threat, he believes, is that education systems around the world aren’t teaching their students the skills they need to work together with these increasingly intelligent machines. “The correct concern,” Schmidt explained, “is what we’re going to do to improve the education systems and incentive systems globally, in order to get people prepared for this new world, so they can maximize their income.”


All that said, Schmidt also confessed that these machines are a lot more primitive than people would like to imagine. For evidence of that fact, he explained an experiment Google conducted a few years back, in which the company’s scientists developed a neural network and fed it 11,000 hours of YouTube videos to see what it could learn, without any training. “It discovered the concept of ‘cat,'” Schmidt said, assuming the tone of a disappointed dad. “I’m not quite sure what to say about that, except that that’s where we are.” In other words, Schmidt believes human operators are still every bit as important as the technology.


Of course, for Schmidt, this messaging is a tad self-serving. Artificial intelligence is at the core of almost all of Google’s current and and future technologies. If the company wants to live up to its longstanding corporate motto, it’ll need to convince the public that these inventions won’t, well, “be evil.”



Pirate Bay Has Been Raided and Taken Down: Here’s What We Know


pirate-bay-logo

Getty Images/WIRED



The popular file-sharing service Pirate Bay was taken down today following a raid in Sweden by police who seized servers and computers.

The Pirate Bay portal went down Tuesday morning after Swedish police raided a server room in Stockholm over alleged copyright violations. In addition to its file-sharing section, Pirate Bay’s forum Suprbay.org was also down.


“There were a number of police officers and digital forensics experts there. This took place during the morning and continued until this afternoon. Several servers and computers were seized, but I cannot say exactly how many,” Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad told Radio Sweden.


Pirate Bay may not be the only target. According to TorrentFreak, other sites related to file sharing such as EZTV, Zoink, and Torrage went down today as well, though it’s not yet known if they were also raided.


Founded in 2003, Pirate Bay has been in the legal crosshairs for years, but has managed to stay afloat despite efforts by governments, anti-piracy groups and the music and film industries to close it down. Today’s raid comes after a number of recent events have occurred around the service, putting it in the spotlight once again.


The Timeline of Pirate Bay’s Recent Troubles


In October, Pirate Bay’s co-founder, the Swedish national Gottfrid Svartholm, was found guilty in Denmark and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. Although the conviction this time was unrelated to file-sharing, it follows a previous 2009 conviction on copyright violations related to the file-sharing service. Svartholm had been convicted on the copyright charges along with his Pirate Bay co-founders, Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde, and Swedish telecommunitations owner Carl Lundstrom. While all three had been apprehended, Neij went on the lam, however.


But just last month, Neij was arrested at the Thailand-Laos border on the 2009 conviction.


And last week a French court ordered ISPs in that country to block access to Pirate Bay, as well as any of its mirror sites, from within French territory.


Then days ago Google removed and banned a number of third-party Pirate Bay file-sharing apps from the Google Play store. The apps help users circumvent blocks instated by ISPs to prevent users from accessing Pirate Bay.


Today’s raid comes after some of the movie files stolen from Sony Pictures Entertainment in its recent hack became available for download through links at Pirate Bay. It’s unknown if the raid and takedown were instigated by the distribution of those Sony files.


Today’s raid comes after some of the movie files stolen from Sony Pictures Entertainment in its recent hack became available for download through links at Pirate Bay.


Despite the previous convictions, Pirate Bay has managed to forge ahead without its founders, catering to millions of daily users. Although today’s raid is not the first—Pirate Bay was also raided in 2006—in 2012 its operators bragged that they had moved their operations to the cloud to make the service virtually impervious to police raids. By hosting their operation from multiple cloud hosting providers located in a number of countries, a single police raid would not be able to disrupt their operation. Or so they thought.


It’s unclear how long authorities can keep Pirate Bay down this time before it pops up again.



A Purity Ring Track and Sia Remix Top This Week’s Playlist


purity-ring-pushpull

4AD



There are a lot of good full-lengths dropping today from veterans—E-40, Ghostface, and Smashing Pumpkins (really!) all have new albums—but we’re concentrating on all those single tracks that trickle onto the internet all day, every day. And this week has some great offerings, from a new Purity Ring track to a great Sia remix to a stellar Danny Brown x Action Bronson x Alchemist effort that was part of Grand Theft Auto V’s heretofore unreleased in-game radio tracks.


As usual, we’ve added the tracks to our ongoing Spotify playlist of great new music, and created a standalone playlist (below). Keep the recommendations coming.


The tracks:

Niia x The Range, “Body”

Twin Shadow, “Turn Me Up”

Purity Ring, “Push Pull”

Dum Dum Girls, “On Christmas”

Banks, “Beggin For Thread (Salva Remix)”

Sia, “Big Girls Cry (ODESZA Remix)”

Sleater Kinney, “Surface Envy”

Your Old Droog, “Porno For Pyros”

Danny Brown & Action Bronson, “Bad News”

Joey Bada$$, “No. 99″



5 Reasons to Read the Time-Traveling Graphic Novel Here




A dinosaur may have once snacked where you’re sitting. A founding father may have argued for freedom, right where you stand. Fifty years from now? It could be robots napping in your bed, not you. Slow down the clock and you might find yourself thinking about yesterday, last week, tomorrow and today—we know we do. These very notions—about the fluidity of time and our relationship to it—are at the center of artist Richard McGuire’s charming new graphic novel, Here.


With a cozy fireplace on one end and a window on the other, Here takes place in one corner of one room. Within those walls, we watch as couples quarrel, children play, a cat wanders, and a dinosaur roams. The location never changes, but the clock does—giving snapshots from millions of years ago to decades into the future. Most pages aren’t limited to one time period, and panels within panels allow the reader to cut through space to see what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow. It is, to say the least, awesome.


WIRED talked with McGuire about his inspiration for his beautiful book, out today, and the hidden secrets in its pages. “Ultimately, it’s about impermanence,” McGuire explains. That’s a funny summation of a piece of work that started as a comic strip in 1989 and has remained relevant and beloved ever since. Here’s everything you need to know to get into Here.


The Book Draws From the Artist’s Childhood Memories, Dreams, and Family Life


After the death of his parents, McGuire packed up his family’s home. He found stacks of photos and unearthed old memories, which made their way into the book. “My dad took the same photo of us every year in the same spot as we grew up,” McGuire says.


Sound familiar? McGuire found that lots of families have many of the same rituals—photographs, holidays, movie nights. “All the photos of family stuff all look the same,” he says. People who pass through the panels may be McGuire’s aunts or uncles, but he doesn’t think it matters; the story, the family, the scenes are universal. The reader brings his or her own dreams and memories of what it means to be home. McGuire, nonetheless, has snuck little Easter eggs into the book. The opening scene, for example, is the year he was born.


Here Was Developed from McGuire’s Hugely Influential 1989 Comic Strip in RAW


After attending a lecture by Art Spiegelman in the late 1980s, McGuire wrote a comic strip that played with the idea of one space throughout time. Inspired by the then-new concept of computer “windows,” McGuire developed the panels-within-panels concept that would become essential to his book. The strip, named “Here,” ran in Volume 2 of RAW magazine, the avant-garde comics anthology run by Spiegelman and Fran├žoise Mouly. “It was very simple,” Mouly says of the original comic. “It was at the core of what we were interested in, and it hadn’t been done before.”


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The cover of Here. courtesy Pantheon Books



The impact was immediate. “Richard’s work had a profound, life-changing influence on me,” comic book artist Chris Ware says. “It opened up a completely new avenue of expression for visual storytelling by adding to the familiar left-to-right and up-and-down reading of comics a third ‘in-and-out’ direction of overlapping palimpsests of framed historical space.” Readers could read the strip, like the now full-fledged book, in—essentially—any order and come away with a new understanding of the story.


Ben Franklin Was Here. (So Were Native Americans, Forests, and Dinosaurs.)


There’s a history to every place, which McGuire felt he couldn’t ignore. The “here” itself could be anywhere, sure, but McGuire used his childhood home in New Jersey as the basis for the book’s historical research. Growing up he had heard that the house across the street from his was somehow linked to Ben Franklin. He found that Franklin’s son had, in fact, lived there—his father visited on occasion, but their relationship was strained by the son’s loyalty to King George.


McGuire also learned that Native Americans had lived near his home, which was not a house, but a forest at the time. These historical moments make an entrance in the book, but they’re no more important to the narrative than a Halloween party years later, or a lazy afternoon. “We’re all passing through and everyone is playing their part,” McGuire says. “The Ben Franklin thing too—it’s just another little blip in the scope of things.”


Colors, Styles, and a Dab of Nostalgia Help Mark the Years


The original strip in RAW was simple, black and white, pen and ink. “I felt like I had to draw this generic style for people to follow me. It had to be like an owner’s manual or something,” McGuire says. For the book, however, he opted to draw with pencils and paint with watercolors—bright reds, yellows, burnt browns, grassy greens, deep blues.


Storylines and time periods have more consistent color schemes (i.e. follow the yellow brick panels), as well, which help the reader track the story. “Even the mediums have a time base,” McGuire says. “Some were done really quickly, and some were meant to be temporary, and then I was seeing them next to each other and they felt like they have different moods or temperatures.” Even furniture, clothing, hairstyles, and language all play a role in creating distinct time periods across a singular space.


Here Uses Its Shape to Help Tell Its Story


In the book, the gutter is the back corner of the room. “It places the reader into the story’s three-dimensional space simply by opening the book itself,” Ware explains. “One could claim that the main character of this book is the corner or space where it all happens, but it’s really the consciousness of the reader that’s at the center of the story.” With this in mind, McGuire at one point considered scrambling the book’s pages for each print, so each reader would get a different copy. Then, he realized that “would be crazy,” he says.


Instead, he let the book be the book, and developed an interactive e-book as well. The physical copy remains the same for each reader, but the e-book lets readers shuffle pages by clicking the date or follow a single story by clicking through panels. “Even if you don’t know specifically what the story is, they have a presence, they have a coherence. It’s like reading a detective story and you have to link those things in your mind,” says Mouly of the book. “Is it comics? Is it a graphic novel? Is it art? Is the e-book the ultimate version? They function as a series of pictures. It’s a work of literature.” Ultimately, whether reading the book or e-book, where the story goes and what it means is up to you.


Here is available today. Check out an excerpt from McGuire’s book in the gallery above.