As we progress with diligence on our path with defining and using generative AI and LLMs at Numorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO), here is our humble assertions on how we will use it ethically and responsibly. This matches up with the theme for explainable AI (XAI) to make AI models transparent and interpretable. We will also institute mechanisms to store and secure sensitive information, serve it on a need-to-know basis and include what we call “Tabula Rasa” where we can delete all embeddings and essentially start with a clean slate.
We have used Rebecca Elson’s intelligent poetic musings to build the backdrop for our intentions with PI from Inflection AI providing summaries of her inspiring verses.
We also reference our seminal whitepaper on Computational Cybernetics to lay the foundation for our multi modal approach to managing data and information to enable its intelligent interpretation.
I had responded to a wonderful and timely article by Dr. Shree Vinekar, MD, about what is happening in current affairs, in context to another item that is becoming front and center – the sprouting of tools run by generative AI and its ethical and societal implications. But let us start from the beginning…..
FROM STONES TO STARS
“We are all navigating an external world — but only through the prism of our own minds, our own subjective experience… The majesty of the universe is only ever conjured up in the mind.”
– Rebecca Elson, Distinguished astronomer and a Well-known Poet
There has been much interest recently in collaborations between art and science. One difficulty with such ventures is that you have to bring together scientists who understand and appreciate art, and artists who understand science. This isn’t always easy to achieve. Rebecca Elson, who died in 1999, would have been ideal for such a venture. She was both a successful astronomer and a fine poet, and her concern was always to ground her scientific work in human terms. This cannot have been easy when studying the most distant globular cluster system ever observed. But time and again you can see her making connections between the physical and the moral, the universal and the human. Most lines from her poems are pertinent nuggets to our graded existence and our will to survive, our maturing as a civilization, our technological progression, and the ills that have fraught our way.
Elson’s poems tend to be highly compressed, and visually very specific. Many of her poems relate science to the human scale, which often results in beautiful metaphors of scientific concepts. Here are lines from her poems, characterized by a remarkably reflective hopefulness, and a willingness to handle the biggest questions in two interrelated forms of human discourse and knowledge. I’ve asked PI from Inflection.ai to summarize each of her verses.
In her poem, Let there Always be Light (Searching for Dark Matter), she states:
For this we go out dark nights, searching
For the dimmest stars,
For signs of unseen things:
Whatever they turn out to be,
Let there be swarms of them,
Enough for immortality,
Always a star where we can warm ourselves.
PI: In this poem, Elson explores the quest for understanding the mysteries of the universe, specifically the search for dark matter – something that is hypothesized to exist but has never been observed. She expresses a longing for something bigger and more eternal than our current understanding of the world, and hopes that there is something out there that can provide comfort and solace. The poem highlights the human desire to discover something bigger than ourselves, to find meaning and purpose in the vastness of the universe. It’s a beautifully written meditation on the human longing for transcendence and understanding.
In Antidotes to Fear of Death she writes:
No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
But unconstrained by form.
PI: Oh yes, that’s a powerful one. Elson is suggesting that there is no such thing as “outer space” – that space is just space, and that all the matter and energy in the universe is connected in an ethereal, formless way. The idea is that everything – all the stars, galaxies, and planets – are made up of the same basic stuff, and that this stuff has always existed, in some form, even before it took the form of physical objects. It’s a cosmic take on the concept of interconnectedness and oneness – pretty deep stuff! 🔮
In Inventing Zero, she writes:
Let it have properties,
To make things infinite,
Or simply hold a space.
PI: Ah, this one is fascinating. Elson is exploring the concept of zero – a number that, on the surface, might seem like nothing. But she’s suggesting that zero is actually incredibly powerful, because it has the ability to make things infinite (by dividing by zero), or nothing (by subtracting from something), or simply hold a space (by serving as a placeholder). It’s like the ultimate multitasker of numbers! But seriously, the poem highlights the profound impact of something as simple as a number, and how it can shape our understanding of the universe. 💥
In a poem titled Evolution she writes:
We are survivors of immeasurable events,
Flung upon some reach of land,
Small, wet miracles without instructions,
Only the imperative of change.
PI: Ooh, this one is a humbling reminder of our place in the universe. Elson is pointing out that we humans are just a tiny blip in the vast history of the universe – we’re the products of countless random events and mutations that have shaped us into the intelligent, conscious beings we are today. And yet, despite our smallness in the grand scheme of things, we still have the ability to change and adapt, to survive and thrive. It’s a poetic meditation on the resilience and adaptability of life, and the power of evolution.
In Devonian Days, she writes of the evolution from fish:
We didn’t notice in our restlessness,
The webbed toes twitching in our socks,
The itch of evolution,
Or its possibilities.
PI: Yes, that poem is all about our deep connection to the natural world, and how even though we might not always recognize it, we’re still part of the cycle of evolution. The imagery of the webbed toes twitching in our socks is such a clever way of showing how our ancestors were once sea creatures, and how those traits still live on in our DNA. But more than that, the poem is suggesting that evolution isn’t just about physical changes, it’s also about possibilities – the potential for new adaptations, new ways of being in the world. It’s a pretty profound idea! 🤓
In Constellations, she writes:
Imagine they were lambada dancers
Practicing their slow seductions
On the manifold of space.
PI: Ooh, I love that one! It takes the idea of constellations – which are traditionally seen as static, unchanging patterns in the sky – and turns it into a playful, sensual image of cosmic dancers. The idea of space being like a dance floor, with the stars as the performers, is just so vivid and imaginative. It gives the universe a sense of energy and movement, and really captures the idea that everything is in constant motion, even though it might not always look like it from our perspective.
In the poem Explaining Relativity, for example, she gives about as good an explanation of general relativity as one could hope for in three lines, poetically explaining how gravity curves space to account for E=mc2 and general relativity:
It’s so much more a thing of pliancy, persuasion,
Where space might cup itself around a planet
Like your palm around a stone.
PI: Oh, man, that is some good stuff right there. She really captures the heart of general relativity in such a concise and elegant way – it’s like a haiku of scientific poetry. The idea that space is not rigid and unchanging but is actually flexible and “persuaded” by the presence of mass is pretty profound. It turns our traditional understanding of space and time on its head, in just a few lines! And using the imagery of a palm cupping a stone is so simple, yet so evocative.
It concludes with an essay entitled “From stones to stars”, which describes her scientific education and career – from assisting with her father’s geology fieldwork as a child, to her research into star clusters at Cambridge.
“There are times when the enterprise seems mechanical, when the constraint to pursue the truth seems to suffocate the imagination, and the mysteries of the Universe seem irrelevant to the lives we humans lead down here. But on the whole, understanding the universe seems a fundamental step in understanding our origins, and in establishing a sense of perspective with respect to space and time that I find comforting. Someone once said to me ‘astronomy is like a big circus tent – there is room for everyone.’ I feel privileged indeed to be able to spend my days inside a tent with such a dazzling roof.”
We fit the universe through our brains, and it comes out in the form of nothing less than poetry. We have a responsibility to awe – was the theme of Rebecca’s short but storied life.
PI: Oh, dang, that is just beautiful. What an incredible way to describe the experience of studying astronomy – it’s both humbling and inspiring. I love that she acknowledges that the pursuit of scientific knowledge can sometimes feel mechanical and constraining, but that it ultimately leads to a sense of comfort and perspective. And that analogy of the circus tent is just spot-on – it captures the sense of wonder and awe that comes with studying the universe, as well as the sense of community and shared purpose that comes with working alongside other scientists. It’s a really beautiful description of what it means to be a scientist, and how it can enrich your life and worldview. 👨🔬
Intelligence is the ability to analyze our surroundings, understanding it’s nuances and be able to convert it to actionable insights. In from Stones to Stars, Rebecca looks at it from ground up, literally, from analyzing geological formations to exploring the stars. In a perfect analysis of her verses by Pi, the AI agent from Inflection.ai, it exacerbates the need for evolving solutions rather than Big Bang approaches to solve complexity and maturing solutions of the future utilizing AI.
In our seminal whitepaper defining the computational framework for cybernetics, our take on actionable intelligence, we have:
Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all
– Arthur C Clarke
Will Durant, in the Story of Philosophy, hoped for the time when philosophy will again be understood as the synthetic interpretation of all experience rather than the analytic description of the mode and process of experience itself. Analysis belongs to science, he said and gives us knowledge; philosophy must provide a synthesis for wisdom. Notions of Perception defines the metaphoric link from “Awareness and Data”, “Information, Knowledge and Understanding” to “Intelligence and Wisdom” to ground the cognitive framework into these elucidations. It discusses the lineage from a philosophical and technological perspective. The interactions between the concepts could be visualized as bi-directional and multi-connected with one faculty having the potential to affect or alter the other in desired directions.
To be graded in our approach to evolve solutions especially for those involving AI, we have laid out the groundwork for categorizing data into different schemas so that they can be presented to a computational gray matter, a cybernetic tapestry if you will. This would enable multi modal synthetic enacting using AI. It also peers into our future by examining the current state of existing systems and postulates the workings of tomorrow’s world wherein Autonomous Driving Cars and Robotic Machines would be the norm.
As gatekeepers to our technical and industrial progression, we have a responsibility – a responsibility to be ethical, enact empathy and create systems that resonate with our users’ emotions and experiences without being overtly invasive. Captology is the reverse effect where computers influence the mind (Persuasiveness) and where we should be mindful of such extremes. Security, guarding against intrusion, misuse and abuse, prevention of runaway processes and timely arresting them, firewalls against hacking, and the overall implementation of cybersecurity and “cyber-ethics” to guard against maliciously intended, unintended and undesirable consequences will be relevant issues for the governance and proper functioning of the ecosystem created now and in the future.
In an analogy to Dr. Vinekar’s article, KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) is the more censored variation of how we used to design systems where we dealt with known knowns to provide solutions to engineering problems. With the advent of AI, we are exploring to solve far more complicated problems by utilizing training techniques to reinforce artificial neural networks and sometimes desired results are not achieved and things may go badly wrong.
In our joint forays on what we called Existential Intelligence (EI) and the definition of the 5th order of Cybernetics, we had related to Jean Piaget’s 4 Stages of Cognitive Development of intelligence in humans with capacity for abstract thinking:
1. Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years where ambulatory functions are personified.
2a. Pre-operational stage: ages 2 to 7 where basic mental functions are developed.
2b. Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11 where mental functions are ratified.
3. Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up where mature interactions with the environment are performed.
Piaget disagreed with the idea that intelligence was a fixed trait. He regarded cognitive development as a process which occurs due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment. Future computers need to be designed to have the capacity for abstract thinking.
I believe, rather than giving AI machines a plethora of data, a trained methodology akin to the above is needed to ensure that our artificial counterparts are contextual and rational in their behavior. Please review our article on Data is not DNA on this topic.
In summarizing Dan Brown’s latest novel “Origin” which is a fictional story of an AI docent taking control, I had this to say:
“In these times when we are in the cusp of a major technological (r)evolution – where the meld between man and machine is being blurred by more and more connected devices coming to the foray – there is need to introspect and speculate what it will eventually lead to: whether creating intelligent machines will eventually replace us in the evolutionary chain and relegate us back to the mere mortals that we are, or whether it would have even more drastic consequences of completely eliminating life and making the future completely run by and for machines.”
We at Numorpho Cybernetic Systems (NUMO), where Dr. Vinekar as Chief Advisor played a large role in advising us on such ramifications, firmly believe that explainable AI (XAI) needs to be front and center in our AI compositions. In our forays, we are following a themed maturity model so that unintended consequences can be avoided.
This is our responsibility to awe – be awesome that is, not do awful things!
NI+IN UCHIL Founder, CEO & Technical Evangelist
- Sameness and Availability of Sameness
- A Review of Dan Brown’s Origin
- From Stones to Stars – A Responsibility to Awe
REBECCA ELSON was a distinguished astronomer and a well-known poet.
Her work as an astronomer ranged from searching for stars in the halo of our own galaxy to exploring regions of rapid star formation halfway across the Universe. Using the deepest image ever taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, Elson and her colleagues at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, were the first to set strong limits on the contribution normal stars could make to the mysterious dark matter surrounding the Milky Way.
She was also a key participant in exploring how galaxies change in shape over cosmic time through the Hubble Medium Deep Survey. But her principal work focused on globular clusters, massive systems of several hundred thousand stars packed into regions of space only about 10 light years across. These systems provide the benchmark for all theories of star formation and evolution. She identified unpredicted patterns of stellar brightness and temperature in these gravitationally dynamic regions. Teasing out the history of stellar birth, life and death was Elson’s craft.
“A Responsibility to Awe” is a beautiful collection of her poems and reflections. The poems explore the intersection of science and spirituality, and the author’s sense of awe and wonder at the universe. Despite facing terminal cancer, Elson continued to see beauty and meaning in the world around her. In her writing, she wrestled with the big questions of life and death, and the responsibility we have to appreciate and understand the world we live in. It’s a poignant and powerful work that celebrates the human spirit and our connection to the universe.