Bill Nye Saves the World Series Debunked

Part 3 of 13:

Season 1, Episode 3 - Machines Take Over the World

Part 1 of 13: Season 1 Episode 1 – Earth Is a Hot Mess
Part 2 of 13: Season 1, Episode 2 – Tune Your Quack-o-Meter
Part 3 of 13: Season 1, Episode 3 – Machines Take Over the World
Part 4 of 13: Season 1, Episode 4 – More Food, Less Hype
Part 5 of 13: Season 1, Episode 5 – The Original Martian Invasion
Part 6 of 13: Season 1, Episode 6 – Do Some Shots, Save the World
Part 7 of 13: Season 1, Episode 7 – Cheat Codes for Reality
Part 8 of 13: Season 1, Episode 8 – This Diet Is Bananas
Part 9 of 13: Season 1, Episode 9 – The Sexual Spectrum
Part 10 of 13: Season 1, Episode 10 – Saving the World - with Space!
Part 11 of 13: Season 1, Episode 11 – Malarkey!
Part 12 of 13: Season 1, Episode 12 – Designer Babies
Part 13 of 13: Season 1, Episode 13 – Earth's People Problem

By: Shawn Alli
Posted: May 31, 2017

Bill Nye Saves the World Season 1, Episode 3 – Machines Take Over the World

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In this episode we move onto artificial intelligence (AI). Less than 4 minutes into the episode Nye points to a thermostat and says that it's an artificially intelligent thermostat.


Sigh. Here we go.


Current technological innovations like self-driving cars in 2017 may sound impressive but it's not AI. AI is when a computer program goes beyond its programming. Let's say that a program is designed to choose only X, Y, Z, or shutdown. Instead, it chooses A, something that the programmers never programmed into the code. That's an example of AI (see Artificial Intelligence in Philosophy Reborn Part III: Science).


The fact that Nye says that the thermostat is learning because it can read settings is evidence that Nye doesn't understand what AI is. The thermostat (as advanced as it is), is programmed to read temperatures and adjust if necessary. That's not AI. That's just a regular computer program made by programmers. The fact that Nye says that AI is already here shows a lack of knowledge on AI (which is surprising since he's trained as an engineer).


Nye says that the episode is about how we manage AI today. Umm...since AI doesn't actually exist, the entire show will be completely false. But, as an ardent debunker, I'll watch it till the end.


Derek Muller (a member of Nye's team) shows a vision where AI is benign and beautiful. What are these liberals smoking? Muller shows a computer creating an original painting. While that's nice, it's just advanced programming, nothing more. There's no thought process involved in the painting. The ability to analyze facial characteristics is merely due to programming.


And no, contrary to Muller's exuberance, we're not exploring the boundaries of AI in 2017. You can't explore the boundaries of something that doesn't yet exist. Or more accurately, the moment that a program chooses something beyond its programming...has yet to happen.


While Nye doesn't want to drive to work, many people enjoy driving. If people can have a safe space in their car, would they prefer a computer driving if they know for sure that it's not going to crash? I don't know. Like most things in life, people don't know what they like until they're presented with the option.


Nye asks Muller if the AI is learning to paint. He says yes. Muller says that the thermostat and fridge are basic levels of AI. Sorry, but everyone is wrong here. None of these technological innovations represent AI. But intelligently enough, he questions whether the fridge or thermostat is even worthy of the term. Well done. The answer is no. Let's move on.


Nye asks if the computer has emotions. Muller says no. But if it did, it would be true AI for him. And now we have the terms AI and true AI. Sigh. Muller questions whether the internet is conscious. Double sigh. No, it's not conscious. Stop going around in circles.


Nye convenes his panel: Xeni Jardin (tech journalist), Rao Subbarao Kambhampati (a professor of computer science), and Ryan Calo (a law professor). Jardin says that the AI fear mongering is nonsense and that we should be in wonder of AI.


Professor Kambhampati says that most people think that AI will be positive. Really? These people must be California hippies or from Silicon Valley. Professor Calo says that we should be worried about AI but it's not going to kill us. Is that a falsifiable claim? Of course not.


Jardin says that she's a cancer survivor and that Big Pharma and science deserves the applause. I'm not going to say anything. I'll just let time take its course. Jardin is a full AI believer and will give up all of her rights and privacy if it will prevent her from dying. Ahh yes...liberal atheists and their great fear of death and their desire to do anything to prevent it. How sad.


Amazingly, Calo makes a great point about what it will be like if everything around us feels like a person. How will we act? Will we ever truly be ourselves if we feel that someone is measuring our reactions 24 hours and day? That's a legitimate issue. Well done Calo.


Kambhampati injects rationality into the conversation by saying that there's a difference between autonomy and AI. He says that we have autonomy but we don't have AI. Well done Kambhampati.


Nye then talks to Saqib Shaik and Margaret Mitchell from Microsoft about the possibilities of technology. While Microsoft technology is nice (aside from Windows 8 and 10), none of it comes close to AI.