BCM300 Blog Post 1

In week 1 I played Settlers of Catan. I had played this game before but I was playing with 3 other people who were very new to board games and had never played Catan before. Apparently, when it comes to Settlers of Catan, experience doesn’t really matter and as long as you understand the base mechanics of the game, you’ll do alright.

Carcassonne was designed by famed board game creator, Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and published by Hans im Glück in the year 2000. The game is named after the town of Carcassonne in southern France which is famous for its city walls. Just like the town, the game is based around building cities through the connection of walls and land. The game is played by placing tiles in a connecting manner as to create cities, block others off, create farms and create roads. To win you must have gathered the maximum number of points through creating these things. The game itself is very simple and can be played by almost anyone as long as they have the ability to place tiles. Each tile can only be connected to another of the same type (e.g farm to farm, town to town, wall to wall, and road to road).

Carcassonne uses modular boards and area control as its 2 most base mechanics.
Modular boards allow each game to be vastly different to the one previous and allows the players of the game to be able to create boards they want as well as giving them a sense of control over how the game plays. It also allows players the ability to purposely mess up other players. Carcassonne uses this expertly by randomizing each tile when you draw and by minimizing the better and more flexible cards and maximizing the tougher cards that only work in certain situations. In my experience, having the less flexible cards being the ones that you draw the most makes the game more difficult and makes you have to think about your strategy multiple turns in advance. In spite of this, I found that it didn’t matter how far I planned ahead and how much I tried to mess up my competition, the randomness of the tiles leveled the playing field for myself and my competitors.
Carcassonne’s other mechanic of area control adds a skill to the game that perfectly matches the modular board’s randomness. By minimizing the number of followers that each player has access to, players really need to make sure every placement of a follower counts. In the 2 games that we played, I lost probably 3 followers by being too ambitious with cities and/or roads that I was trying to build. Because of this I probably lost both the games.

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Robots, AI, and Ethics

For this task, I have decided to do some research into ‘The Robot’. This area really interests me because it deals with the idea of automation and quality of living both in the workforce as well as in our daily lives. Not only does this topic talk about how we can make our lives easier but it also delves into the ethics of automation and whether it is ethical or not to both strive to be completely automated in a world where it is increasingly becoming harder and harder to find jobs. There is also the idea of the completely self-sufficient robot with artificial intelligence (AI) and the ethics surrounding both the development and upkeep of such a robot. I really want to look further into the last of these ideas as I believe that we are not too far off from having a pretty insane AI.

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Just recently Google revealed it’s newest iteration of AI called the ‘Google Duplex’ and it is the first of its kind as it is able to make real phone calls and book appointments for you just as a human would. This product amazed the crowd at the keynote but continued a long-standing debate surrounding the ethical use of products such as Duplex. The website TechCrunch cites Dr. Thomas King of the Oxford Internet Institute’s Digital Ethics Lab saying that “Google’s experiments do appear to have been designed to deceive,” and “You don’t necessarily need to deceive someone to give them a better user experience by sounding natural.” James Gips goes into the idea of deception in his paper “Towards The Ethical Robot” when he touches on the idea of Deontological ethical theories. An Example of this is proposed by Bernard Gert in which he proposes 10 moral rules. One of these rules is don’t deceive. This rule is directly opposed by the Google Duplex as it pretends to be a real person through its machine learning where it even says ‘um’ and ‘hmmm’ in response to questions to make it seem more human. There is also no way for the person on the other side of the call to know whether they are talking to a real person or not as there is no disclaimer before the call starts.

Gips’ continues to talk about the many theories about the morals and ethics surrounding robots and Artificial Intelligence. He outlines the 3 most well-known rules for ethical robots formulated by Isaac Asimov in 1942. 1) A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law. These are what the majority of sci-fi shows and movies base their rules on when it comes to creating a world where artificial Intelligence exists. AI has long been a mainstay in sci-fi film as it not only creates a scary and unknown being, it makes the audience think and ponder the actual existence of AI. Some of cinema’s greatest film contain ideas of AI as either the forefront of the film or a recurring theme. Some of these films include 2001: A Space Odyssey, RoboCop, Ex Machina, and Ghost in The Shell. The fact that these films are so popular and universally loved shows that people are interested in AI and how to effects them. The other theories that Gips outlines contain Consequentialist theories and Virtue-based theories.

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In the book ‘Machine Ethics’ by Susan Leigh Anderson, she presents four visions for the future of machine ethics. 1) AI is ideally suited to exploring the process of ethical reasoning and decision making. 2) AI could create a system that would be able to make better decisions due to its ability to be more impartial and check for consistency in social circles. 3) Whether AI will become less ethical and will actually surpass humans in its ability to make decisions and therefore define its own ethics. 4) AI has already surpassed humans in intellectual prowess and ethics as we have set the bar so low already. These four visions show a range of ideas and theories of what AI will become and what potential it has in what it will/should become. AI is a very powerful tool in western culture and will become even more powerful and I believe will determine how we communicate and interact with each other and the world around us. For my research question in relation to communications and media, I would like to focus on the evolution of AI robotics socially and how it affects us both physically and ethically in western society.

 

References

-Anderson, M. & Anderson, S. (eds.) (2011).  _Machine Ethics_. Cambridge Univ. Press

-Gips, James  (1994).  Toward the ethical robot. In Kenneth M. Ford, C. Glymour & Patrick Hayes (eds.), _Android Epistemology_. MIT Press

-Duplex show Google failing at ethical and creative AI design

Natasha Lomas

January 2018

Duplex shows Google failing at ethical and creative AI design

MEDA301 Workshop 1

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This is my “Workspace”. It’s located in a little annex that is connected to my room at the front of the house that I share with 4 other dudes. I mostly play games, watch videos, do work but I also use it to create, read and often nap. It is a very multi-use area. It’s a quiet little room mostly due to my noise cancelling headphones that I almost always have on. I have a portable aircon that keeps the room at a nice temperature and it has a nice view of the road and the surrounding area but I can close the blinds if I wish to have some privacy.

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