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The non-limits of Artificial Intelligence and moral and survival issues

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The man-made artificial brain is autonomous because it is capable of emotional expressiveness and self-consciousness. Efforts to develop a strong Artificial Intelligence have also made considerable progress in the field of neural engineering, as well as in our understanding of the human brain. But while some focus on the still distant dream of a thinking computer, some believe that the journey is more important than the destination. The priority is to use scientists’ opportunities and discoveries to develop new methods for the early detection of cancer and in the hope of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease: in short, to save lives.

If mankind is to survive and advance to higher levels, a new kind of thinking is essential: Albert Einstein said as much over seventy years ago and the idea could not be more relevant and topical today. Controlled intelligent machines will soon enable us to overcome our toughest challenges, not only to cure diseases, but to eradicate poverty and hunger, to heal the planet and to build a better future for all of us: for that future to become a reality for our children. We have always wanted to change the world, but for the time being we should be content to understand it first.

For as many as 130,000 years, our ability for reasoning has remained unchanged. All the intelligence of neuroscientists, mathematical engineers and hackers pales in comparison to the most basic artificial intelligence. Once activated, a sentient machine would soon surpass the limits of biology, and in a short time its analytical power would exceed the collective intelligence of all human beings in the history of the world.

Just imagine such an entity with a full range of human emotions, including self-consciousness. Some scientists call it singularity, others supernaturality. This means that the path to building such a super-intelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe. What is the nature of consciousness? Will a machine soul with artificial intelligence exist? And if so, where will it reside? Some might ask whether we want to create a god through artificial intelligence: the question is fundamental, since wanting to create a god or replace it – as in the case of cloning – is what man has always done.

Many scientists, however, do not understand the way in which the problem struggles in the tension between the potential of technology and its dangers. They only tend to the goal of doing something never achieved, of surpassing their colleagues, of being better: this is what used to be called “championism” aimed solely at individual selfishness detached from the true needs of the group, of the community, of mankind.

In recent years, the United States of America, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the G20, the OECD, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Google, Microsoft, the Partnership on AI (a non-profit coalition committed to the responsible use of Artificial Intelligence), and other institutions, governments, and companies have proposed ethical standards, principles, and framework constraints in various dimensions, as well as the establishment of a corresponding ethics or advisory committee on Artificial Intelligence. The development of Artificial Intelligence is inseparable from the consideration and supervision of ethics and moral considerations.

It is not yet known what kind of capabilities the development of Artificial Intelligence will achieve in the future and in what form it will coexist with humans. After all, the current Artificial Intelligence is still in the early stage of development, but the general direction is clear, i.e. “reliable Artificial Intelligence”, “technology for the good of people”, etc. – in short, to induce Artificial Intelligence to build a better life for human beings.

It should be said, however, that, at this stage, Artificial Intelligence is mainly limited to military objectives, such as the Maven project contract between the US Department of Defence (DoD) and Google. The background is to use Artificial Intelligence to interpret video images so as to enable drones to attack specific targets more accurately. After all, Google plans not to renew the DoD-Maven project under citizens’ pressure. The medium- and long-term constraints, instead, must be to steer the development of human-guided machines so that they use Artificial Intelligence technology to serve humans and not military purposes of mutual destruction.

The body structure of humans and that of machines are both the union of atoms and molecules, but the quantity and combination are very different. The transmission of biological information is mainly in the form of chemical and electrical synapses, i.e. the interchange of electrical and chemical signals, which can also be achieved in the future in machines by technical means. Nevertheless, including all the matter and material structures around us, machines can be guided and constructed by special invisible and intangible frequencies. Our bodies and external matter itself are only the gaols to be guided and manifested. As mentioned above, only human consciousness is so far impossible to recreate as the source is generated, or is guided and controlled by a hidden form, which could also be the quantum entanglement. In this regard, gravitational waves from a black hole are thought to alter people’s consciousness. Hawking radiation is a real phenomenon. It is the radiation that is released outside the event horizon of a black hole due to relativistic quantum effects: it has been observed and measured. If consciousness is related to quantum entanglement, then those same electrons could be related to those in the nucleus of our brain cells. Gravitational waves can project consciousness into another space-time. This is a further reason why for sidereal travels in the vicinity of black holes, it is not recommended to send human crews, but rather machines that do not suffer the loss of a consciousness that it is good they should not actually have.

Consciousness has completely different definitions in philosophy, psychology and biology. It is generally believed to be people’s ability to recognise the environment and themselves. At the current level of technology, we can only surmise what controls consciousness. Some studies have shown that the claustrum is the switch of brain consciousness, but this is currently only at the stage of experimental speculation. The claustrum is a thin layer of grey matter, a bilateral collection of neurons and supporting glial cells that connects to cortical regions (e.g. the pre-frontal cortex), or to subcortical regions (e.g. the thalamus) of the brain. It is located between the insula medially and the putamen laterally, separated by the extreme and external capsules, respectively.

Consciousness is assumed to be the effect of the magnetic field of the human mind. In quantum mechanics, scientists believe that pure magnetic fields (and pure electric fields) are the effects caused by virtual photons that, however, are photons the reality of which cannot be directly observed.

The conclusions of a study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, show that human DNA is a channel for the reception of energy, which enables human beings to proceed normally. Energy reception mainly refers to the acquisition and transfer of photons, which make the water molecules around the DNA full of energy and strengthen the helical structure. The human body is composed of organs and organs are made up of hundreds of millions of cells.

Each cell is thought to have a certain magnetic field and human organs composed of cells also have an additional magnetic field. The magnetic field of the mind interferes with the magnetic field of each cell, thus affecting and conditioning the development of bodily functions and the behaviour of the human being.

Today, it is more reliable to say that consciousness is the connection of neuronal synapses formed after synaptic growth in childhood. It gradually begins to form and has the ability of immediate memory, which is activated by the bodily functions themselves. Since birth, each of us is destined to evolve, and hence see the “real world” that we perceive as limited by the functional characteristics of our body, which makes us accept the reality in front of us as a summation of habits (established experience) and unforeseen events to be resolved (intelligence). From childhood to adulthood, from birth to death, human thoughts, choices, basic senses and personality are all limited by the inherited structures and ways of thinking existing in the brain. All this is directed by the so-called consciousness. All decisions are the result of “self-awareness”, a further synonym for consciousness.

Everything around us is a function of a huge cosmic Brownian motion, which appears to be regular but is actually irregular. Brownian motion is a natural phenomenon whose mathematical representation describes the time course of a very broad class of random phenomena that have a rationally determined outcome, what we mistakenly call “coincidence”. When analysed, it is actually just a progressive series of daily interactions that lead to a certain climax. Let me give a tragic example.

A lady leaves her house in Paris, stops to feed her cat: it takes her 20 seconds. She gets into her car, crosses the city, stops at a crossroads. The car following her skids and swerves, the headlights blind the view of the driver coming in the other direction, and… bang… Princess Diana crashes into a tunnel and Elton John sells a lot of records for millions of pounds and other related profitable activities. The simplest things make a huge difference, and coincidences do not exist except in the limited view of our mental perception accustomed to “rational” habit.

Bats use ultrasonic waves to identify the world; snakes use infrared beams to find their prey, and humpback whales can communicate hundreds of kilometres away. The world in their eyes is completely different from that of humans. What we see, hear and smell is only what we think, as what our senses perceive is only a fraction of what is happening around us. This means that we cannot prove that the world seen by some animals may not be the real world.

If humans have the ability to control the formation and development of consciousness and inject such a structure of consciousness into a humanoid machine driven by the same neuronal function, there could be a situation in which neither the machine nor the humans can distinguish whether or not the other is a machine or a human: this is ontology.

In terms of composition of the elements: biological and physiological characteristics; methods for transmitting information; ideology and other characteristics. There is no absolutely correct difference – hence how can there be an ethics for humans as seen by a machine that has consciousness?

It is just that – no matter how hard humans try – they may not be able to discover or control the generation of consciousness in a machine, including hidden existences such as dark matter (a hypothetical component of matter that, unlike known matter, would not emit electromagnetic radiation and would currently be detectable only indirectly through its gravitational effects) and dark energy (a form of energy that cannot be directly detected and is homogeneously spread throughout the space), which cannot be identified.

Apart from the unique sense of freedom that human beings regard as such, what component has not the characteristics that correspond to the periodic table of elements? Our consciousness can also be the result of the seemingly natural but irregular movements of various hormones, cells and synapses in the body guided by hidden substances. In turn, the wisdom and skill of Artificial Intelligence may one day surpass the limits of human beings, but even so, it is unlikely that among human beings the fittest will survive on the basis of a Darwinistic approach. For example, in ancient times, the savage phase was prone to cannibalism due to problems of survival and, above all, of intelligence related to brain development.

In modern society, after solving the problem of food and clothing, humans have started to pay attention to the earth, the environment, ecology and respect for animals. Animals instinctively understand that in order to satisfy their needs, they need to live in harmony with their whole and the environment. If human beings really are the basis of the wisdom of the entire planet, will highly intelligent machines also take care of us as small animals and pets, on par with our dog or the aforementioned cat in Paris?

It is therefore our duty to be ethically concerned about issues arising from Artificial Intelligence: it is the justified fear of being overwhelmed by those we now think we control.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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The Promise of Blockchain in Mega Sport Events

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Authors: Dr. Aiman Erbad and Dr. Mohamed Abdallah

Amid the excitement and anticipation of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM, sport remains a business. Like other global industries, the adoption of technology innovations is driving greater efficiency and transparency to generate benefits for sports organizations, leagues, clubs, and fans.

Researchers at the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), make the case for adopting blockchain-powered solutions in delivering seamless sport mega events by outlining some of the top use cases.

Understanding blockchain

“Blockchain can solve many real-world problems,” explains Dr. Mohamed Abdallah, Associate Professor in the Division of Information and Computing Technology (ICT) at CSE.

“For mega sport events, the benefits can be exceptional. Because of its transparent data structure, blockchain can facilitate secure and reliable data exchange at the individual, institutional, or national systems level as needed, without the need for intermediaries to ensure mutual trust and the authenticity of the data exchanged.”

The chaos of the UEFA Champions League final between English team Liverpool and Spanish club Real Madrid in May 2022, which resulted from the illegal distribution of non-validated tickets, is likely to have accelerated the recognition of blockchain’s benefits for the sport industry. The ensuing government inquiry unequivocally called for using blockchain for ticketing to prevent a similar fiasco at future events. A closer look at the nature of this cutting-edge technology reveals why.

How blockchain works

By its functional nature, a blockchain is a distributed (or shared) digital ledger that stores encrypted blocks of transaction data securely chained together in chronological order. Unlike other ledgers or databases, blockchain combines unique security features based on cryptographic techniques and its chronological chain structure.

In its standard form, blockchain provides immutability (data entered is permanently recorded), transparency (data is visible to everyone involved), and decentralization (all computers in the network have a copy of the blockchain to collectively maintain control). These features facilitate a tamper-proof, reliable way of storing, exchanging, and tracking information.

A key use case for mega events: preventing ticketing scandals

Dr. Abdallah and Dr. Aiman Erbad, Associate Professor and Head of ICT at CSE, add their expert voices to arguments that the UEFA Champions League final chaos could have been prevented using a blockchain platform with a self-enforcing contract capability to facilitate a secure ticket purchase process.

In practical terms, tickets can be stored on the blockchain denoted with unique cryptographic tokens. Each ticket can be linked to the authentic owner, providing traceability and accountability that prevents forgery. In this way, it can effectively reduce the impact of bots and/or scammers buying large numbers of tickets for illegal resale.

Using blockchain-based “smart contract” technology, ticketing entities can set the required resale rules to ensure a fair and secure market. These digital contracts can facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers while maintaining data accountability and traceability.

A related use case is storing the chain of ticket ownership. These records cannot be forged since changes are verified and tracked, ensuring data integrity. It can help customers validate the authenticity of tickets to avoid being trapped by ticketing scams.

Other use cases in sport

Blockchain-powered fan engagement is a growing use case for the sports industry. Several professional leagues and clubs are using blockchain to establish trustworthy fan databases that facilitate the distribution of “fan tokens”. With the status of a digital asset (created on a blockchain), the tokens can be redeemed by fans for rewards such as VIP experiences or ticket promotions. The increased fan engagement can potentially create new revenue streams for clubs; for example, incentivizing them to attend more events in person. Fan tokens have been rolled out by professional sports teams all over the world, including Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona.

In another use case, the market for sports collectibles and memorabilia can leverage blockchain to establish trust and traceability. Experts have warned that fraud is rampant in the sports collectibles and memorabilia market. Blockchain can ensure the authenticity of special items through the use of digital identities.

CSE’s own blockchain-based applications

CSE faculty members are developing innovative use cases for blockchain in a range of applied settings.

“Our research focuses on the applicability of blockchain in solving real-world problems, such as securing data access in healthcare and decentralized trading,” says Dr. Erbad.

“We also study the technical aspects of blockchain to enhance its security, privacy, and efficiency. We have investigated the possibility of reducing energy consumption in public blockchains and developed an energy-efficient consensus algorithm. In other areas, we have also investigated using artificial intelligence in combination with blockchain smart contracts, called Rational Contracts, to provide smart resource trading with optimal prices in smart city applications.”

Among CSE’s blockchain-based applications are a trading platform for electric vehicle charging in smart cities, a decentralized ride-sharing service, a privacy-preserving decentralized stock exchange platform, a scalable energy trading sealed-bid auction mechanism, real-time secure health data exchange system, and a cooperative spectrum management system for 5G networks.

A national blueprint for Qatar

CSE had a leading role in developing the Qatar National Blockchain Blueprint in collaboration with the Communications Regulatory Authority and Qatar University. The blueprint highlights how blockchain can advance Qatar’s innovative and growing IT sector.

Essential blockchain requirements and recommendations for building a solid regulatory framework drive its pivotal goal of facilitating blockchain’s adoption at the national level, in support of Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar National Development Strategy. To achieve this, the blueprint outlines the conditions and incentives each sector must provide for the level of technology adoption needed to allow start-ups, pilot projects, and new companies to emerge. The strategy is an important step for Qatar, its sports, and other leading industries, to reap the societal benefits of this innovative technology.

For more information on the work of the College of Science and Engineering, please visit cse.hbku.edu.qa. To know more about Qatar National Blockchain Blueprint, please visit: https://www.cra.gov.qa/document/national-blockchain-blueprint

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Interesting archaeological discovery in Israel

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An ancient scarab from three thousand years ago was surprisingly discovered during a school trip to Azor, near Tel Aviv, Israel. The scene depicted on the scarab probably represents the conferral of legitimate power and authority on a local ruler.

“We were wandering around, when I saw something that looked like a small toy on the ground,” told Gilad Stern of the Education Centre of the Israeli Antiquities Authorityntre, who was leading the school trip. “An inner voice told me: ‘Pick it up and turn it over.’ I was amazed: it was a scarab with a clearly engraved scene, the dream of every amateur archaeologist. The pupils were really enthusiastic!”.

The visit of the Rabin Middle School eight graders took place as part of a tour guide course organised by the Education Centre of the Israel Antiquities Authority for the third consecutive year. The course enables students to teach the residents of Azor about the local archaeological heritage.

The scarab was designed in the shape of the common dung beetle. The ancient Egyptians saw in the gesture of the tiny scarab, which rolls a ball of dung twice its size where it stores its future offspring, the embodiment of creation and regeneration, similar to the gesture of the Creator God.

According to Dr. Amir Golani, an expert of the Israeli Antiquities Authority specialized in the Bronze Age period, “the scarab was used as a seal and was a symbol of power and status. It could be inserted into a necklace or a ring. It is made of silicate earthenware covered with a bluish-green glaze. It could have fallen from the hands of an important and influential personage passing through the area, or it could have been deliberately buried in the ground with other objects and after thousands of years returned to the surface. It is difficult to determine the precise original context.”

The lower, flat part of the scarab seal depicts a figure seated on a chair in front of a standing figure, whose arm is raised above that of the seated person. The standing figure has an elongated head, which seems to represent the crown of an Egyptian pharaoh. It is possible that we are seeing here a snapshot of a scene in which the Egyptian pharaoh confers power and authority on a local Canaanite.

“This scene fundamentally reflects the geopolitical reality that prevailed in the Land of Canaan during the Late Bronze Age (approx. 1500-1000 BC), when local Canaanite rulers lived under Egypt’s political and cultural hegemony (and sometimes rebelled against it)” – said Dr. Golani. “It is therefore very likely that the seal dates back to the Late Bronze Age, when the local Canaanites were ruled by the Egyptian Empire”.

Scarab seals are indeed distinctly Egyptian, but their widespread use extended beyond the borders of ancient Egypt. Hundreds of scarabs were discovered in the Land of ancient Israel, mostly in tombs, but also in settlement layers. Some of them were imported from Egypt, many others were imitated in ancient Israel by local craftsmen under Egyptian influence. The level of workmanship of the particular scarab found is not typical of Egypt and may be a product of local craftsmen.

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Towards Efficient Matrix Multiplication

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Algorithms have, over the years, helped mathematicians/scientists solve numerous fundamental operations. From the early use of simple algorithms by Egyptian, Greek, and Persian mathematicians to the shift towards more robust AI-enabled algorithms, their evolution has manifested incredible progress in the technological realm. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are extending their reach and contributions in various military and civilian domains, it is interesting to witness the application of the technology on itself, i.e., using ML to improve the effectiveness of its underlying algorithms.

Despite the increased familiarisation with algorithms over time, it remains fairly strenuous to find new algorithms that can prove reliable and accurate. Interestingly, ‘Discovering faster matrix multiplication algorithms with reinforcement learning,’ a recent study by DeepMind, a British AI subsidiary in London, published in Nature, has demonstrated some interesting findings in this regard. It revealed new shortcuts simulated by AI for faster mathematical calculations vis-à-vis matrix multiplication.

DeepMind developed an AI system called ‘AlphaTensor’, to expedite matrix multiplication. Matrix multiplication – which uses two grids of numbers multiplied together – is a simple algebraic expression often taught in high school. However, its ubiquitous use in the digital world and computing has considerable influence.

‘AlphaTensor’ was tasked with creating novel, correct, and efficient algorithms to carry out matrix multiplication with the least number of steps possible. The algorithm discovery process was treated as a single-player game. It used AlphaZero – the same AI agent which gained global traction when it displayed extraordinary intelligence in board games like Chess and Go.

AlphaTensor conceptualised the board into a 3-D array of numbers which, through a limited number of moves, tried to find the correct multiplication algorithms. It uses reinforcement learning, where the neural networks interact with the environment toward a specific goal. If the results are favourable, the internal parameters are updated. It also uses Tree Search, in which the ML explores the results of branching possibilities to choose the next action. It seeks to identify the most promising action at each step. The outcomes are used to sharpen neural networks, further helping the tree search, and providing more successes to learn from.

As per the paper’s findings, AlphaTensor discovered thousands of algorithms for various sizes for multiplication matrices, some of which were able to break decades-long computational efficiency records of the previously existing algorithms. They overshadowed the towering complexity of the best-known Strassen’s two-level algorithm for multiplying matrix. For example, AlphaTensor found an algorithm for solving a 4 x 4 matrice in 47 steps overperforming the Strassen algorithm, which used 49 steps for the same operation. Similarly, if a set of matrices was solved using 80 multiplication steps, AlphaTensor reduced it to only 76 steps. This development has caused quite a stir in the tech world as it is being claimed that a fifty-year old record has been broken in Computer Science.

However, the episode underlines some important implications. Given that matrix multiplication is a core component of the digital world, companies around the world have invested considerable time and resources in computer hardware for matrix multiplication. Since it is used across a wide range of domains, including computing, processing images, generating graphics, running simulations, digital communication, and neural networks etc. – to name a few, even minor improvements in matrix multiplication’s efficiency could have a notable and widespread impact in the concerned fields.

The findings manifest the potential of ML to solve even more complicated mathematical problems. The automatic discovery of algorithms via ML offers new capacities to surpass the existing best human-designed algorithms. It introduces new ML techniques, which have the potential to increase computing speed by 20 percent leading to much more feasible timelines. It is pertinent to mention that a lesser number of operations lead to not only lesser time but also less amount of energy spent.

The finding has presented a model to gamify ML to solve mathematical operations. It exhibited that AlphaZero is a potent algorithm that could be used beyond winning traditional games and be applied to solving complex mathematical operations/tasks.

This DeepMind discovery can pave the way for future research on understanding matrix multiplication algorithms and be an inspiration to use AI for algorithm discovery for other computing tasks and set the stage for a possible breakthrough in the field. 

The increased efficiency of matrix multiplication has once again brought into light the ever-expanding potential of AI. To be fair, such developments do not infer that human programmers would be out of the job soon; rather, at least for now, it should be seen as an addition of an optimisation tool in the coder’s arsenal, which could lead to more innovative discoveries in the future with remarkable implications for the world.

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