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tv   Book Discussion on Machines of Loving Grace  CSPAN  December 31, 2015 2:03am-3:02am EST

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so what do we change? we know mammoths and asian elephants have been converging for 6 million years. they are almost 99% identical. so there's probably around a million or so differences between them, we can't target all million, probably what we'll do is hone in on a few things that we think are really important. one of the first things that anyone found to be different between elephant was a hemoglobin gene. responsible for caring oxygen to the body. this was work done in a lab a few years ago. he found comparing the sequence between asian elephants and mammoths, their only three differences so he took cells in a culture and he made the three changes and measured what the purpose of the three differences
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were what was different about the protein that had the mammoth version versus the protein team with the elephant he found the mammoth was better at caring oxygen to the body at low temperatures. this is a pretty good target for something to change if we want to take a tropical adapted elephant and turn it into arctic mammoth. there's a team around the corner that has been working on this question compiled a list of genes that are different between elephants and mammoths. they have attempted to make 14 different swaps. to swap out 14 elephant jeans they have been successful in doing all of it. they have actually created a cell that is about 0.001% mammoth. that's pretty cool. it's a far cry from having a living, breathing, and elephant hybrid but it is a step in the right direction.
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we think hard about plan c, we see see that we have a complete genome sequence. we have the technology that would need to use to edit, swap out these jeans for things that we want to replace them with, what we have next is an elephant cell which would be alive, which means we could go ahead and use the cell transfer to create a living, breathing animal. course that next step is actually pretty hard. in fact, this next step which i like to call phase ii of extinction, may even be harder than phase one. when we hear about extinction what we often hear about is the excitement generating that in the phase i without really venturing into what the challenges will be once we move into phase two. first we would have to do is find an appropriate surrogate host. for some species with a very close living species might be
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some simple. there are many animals and i've asked but they couldn't use it as a surrogate host because they couldn't get it down from the high levels, they were able to hybridize and use it as a surrogate mom to carry the developing embryos, they had living cells because they took the example from the last individual before she died. they are little further ahead with the cloning project than anyone is with the mammoth cloning project. as the evolutionary distance between the thing that you're trying to bring back in the thing that is a potential secured surrogate host increases we don't know how much distance will actually be tolerated. we'll probably be different depending on the lineage were talking about. another problem with surrogacy there some instances where the
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size difference between the thing that you're bringing back in the thing that is alive may actually be prohibitive. i say here that i do not want to include a picture, but i did include one because well here we go. this is a stellar, there's a scale at on the bottom that is afoot, this a big guy. he lived off the coast of california they went extinct a few hundred years ago. they they were hunted to death. one of these guy could beat a crew of 30 people for more than a few weeks. you can see why they may have been a source of food for travelers the closest living relative art do gonzo. they are much smaller animal. if you think about what the ratio between a newborn and a mom and assume it has the same ratio, a newborn is eager that's
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not to work. this is an example of something where there's a technical problem with phase ii that probably means it's not quite happen at least not without innovation that allows all this to happen outside the body of a living relative. another potential complication with surrogacy is we know now that we are more than the sum of what makes up our dna. in fact we're the combination of our genome sequence in the environment which we are exposed. we look at that with identical twins but as they get older they diverge from each other, both physically and the differences accumulate over time. by the time you have identical twins in their old age it is often hard to know that they are identical twins. that's because differences in the environment in which they are exposed.
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the differences begin in the womb. member talk about a species is who's genome is 99% identical. it's developing inside a mom elephant, how do we know that is not going to ruin whatever changes we have made and not allow them to be expressed. same is true after birth. elephants often eat the dung of their mom, this newborn elephant mammoth hybrid may establish an elephant microbial and it would live in an elephant community. and it would eat whatever it is they were fed in captivity. speaking of elephants in captivity, brings us to but i believe is one of the most serious challenges but an important fundamental problem for all the extinction projects.
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that is, there are serious ethical considerations to bringing things back. we know that elephants do not fare well in captivity. they often fail to reproduce, if they do get pregnant they sometimes injure or kill their young. until we know more about how to meet the physical and psychological needs of elephants in captivity, we should not have elephants in captivity at all, much less much less be using them in experiments to bring back mammoth hybrids. the ethical challenge will be different depending on the species was thinking of bringing back. they are extremely important to keep in mind. it be remiss of me not to acknowledge that the world has changed a lot since many of the species went extinct. in many cases, there may be nowhere to put them without having a significant terrible effect on the ecosystem and population of species that are ready there, this picture is the
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east coast. this this is the range of the passenger pigeon. it went extinct 100 years ago. this is a candidate of species for extinction but where would they go if we brought them back given how different their habitat is today than it was 100 or 200 years ago so can we do it , not yet. the technology technology is advancing at incredibly rapid pace. the time will come when somebody does this, they do change sequences from one species to look more like something else. should we do it? someone has written a book about this, i'm expected to have a concrete opinion about whether we should, i do, it is i don't know. i think it depends on what species we are talking about. there's a bunch of different species that have been proposed
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and being worked on by various groups the per chicken, the mammoth, there's also gastric brooding frog, the boccardo, all sorts of different species, each one of them has a separate list, ethical, and eat ecological challenges associated with bringing it back. i think that if we are going to use this technology to bring something back the fundamental question to answer before beginning is, why? why do we actually want to bring a species that is been extinct for a long time back to life? is there a compelling reason to do that? guilt which is the most common reason, to me is not a compelling reason. there has to be a good reason, a, a real reason to actually doing this work. alan by returning to the mammoth.
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i'm going to skip over the fact that it is technically not possible to bring a mammoth back to life and ethnic ethically a terrible idea, to talk about why think it's compelling. first, ecological. one reason to bring something back is by reestablishing it in its natural habitat you can restore interaction between species that used to exist but are gone, that has an overwhelming net positive effect on the entire community, not just the species you're bringing back. there's a place in northeastern siberia that has been established by russian scientists in the 1990s he started buying up land what he's doing is preparing a place for the return of the ice age animal, including mammoth. so far he has bison, horses and about five different species of
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deer, is waiting for the mammoth to come back, while these animals have been there, he's been performing some experiments to measure what their effect on the ecosystem and habitat is. there's a picture that he took an early spring last year or the year before, on 11 side he does not have grazing herbivores on the other side he does. on the side without grazing herbivores is a fairly on diverse bit of grassland, it can't support a large number of herbivore. on the other side of the fence you can see lots of different species of glass. they're tough sobrino all over the place. this is very early spring, before grass has been able to make a comeback. that means that by being on that landscape by just standing on that landscape, turning over the
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dirt these animals have created their own habitat. they have transformed this barren tundra into that grassland of the ice ages making their own habitat. not only are they doing well and thriving that he noticed that other species like the antelopes have come to visit the park because it's such a rich habitat for them. in this case he argues bringing back a mammoth which is clearly a top herbivore might speed up the recovery of this tundra much like elephants play an important role in maintaining their own habitat. the second reason is more sentimental. few of us can imagine a world without elephants. yet, asian elephants are endangered. their habitat is declining, or having trouble stopping them from being poached, elephants could disappear.
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every year there are fewer out once recorded. what if we could use this technology, not to bring back mammoth but to create an elephant that was actually capable of living somewhere cooler, maybe may be in europe or north america, or in siberia where there's lots of space and people who want them. we use this technology not to bring extinct species back to life but to save elephants? we don't have to think about just elephants. what if we could use the technology in a tool on biodiversity education today. what if we could take black footed -- that are almost extinct. they went extinct almost 20 years ago and now they are endangered and diseases killing them. they went through a tight population but there are some in the zoo and their blackfoot parents that are many years old. we could go to these black
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footed ferret genes. we could use this technology to swap out the identical version from some of these existing for old black footed ferret genes that evolution shaped but accidents, extermination by humans may go away. we could use this technology not to do something crazy, not to bring back a species whose habitat no longer exists, but as a powerful new weapon as our arsenal against diversity and extinction that we're facing today. thank you. [applause]. i'm happy to answer any
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questions you might have about how crazy i am. [laughter] for this stuff is. [inaudible] i was gonna ask if it's more important to save the things that we have now my first example of that was the polar bear, habitat is evolving, so so the question is if you have enough to do something with but where would you put them, their habitat was gone and part of that is can you engineer change. >> so this is a good question,
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the polar bear. you've asked the right person because this is a major theme of research in my lab. polar bears are special case. polar bears have almost no genetic diversity but there is a genome sequence that is 100,000 years old. that polar bear also has almost no genetic diversity of their lack of diversity is not because of any recent decline or recent climate change, they are a top predator that is very precisely adapted to their particular habitat. you're you're right, when that habitat disappears, they don't have any diversity which would allow them to adapt to different habitats that are around. the bears have an interesting strategy dealing with this. we discovered recently. not only that it's happening right now for climate change it every time the climate changes rapidly in the past, the same things happen. they breed with brown bears.
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they produce offspring that go live as brown bears. so the jeans and polar bears but polar bears as this discreet thing. this white bear that is precisely adapted to the arctic, it would disappear is engineering traits that would allow them to survive in other environments is not the case because they'll read with brazen live in that of environment but we still not have polar bears. but absolutely. the idea for other species might be you have some that are devoid of diversity in some way, can we increase the amount of diversity in them a genetic shot if you will. that is where this technology is the most powerful. it's what i was talking about in the black footed.
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were really at the early stages
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of all of this. it's a technical challenge standing in the way of actually applying with real question. nonetheless, i think it does have the potential to be useful. >> i want to ask about honeybees and the recent issues they been having in their population. >> it would be great if we could find genes that made that resistance, find some bats that are resistant on them figure out what part of a genome and make that -- transplant that. that be fantastic in exactly the kind of good application of this technology. i'm not saying we have this and ought to do this, i'm just highlighting. i think that's a great one, areas where we should push this along because it would be incredibly useful.
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[inaudible] >> the question was how do we date the bones that we have given it stuff that is washed up with sediments. sometimes we get lucky and we find them in the stratigraphic context for their still frozen. in that case we get even luckier and sitting in between all canada cash layers that have been dated. often, we have to generate dates on every single bone. we do that with carbon. it's a typical approach. that means were limited by the resolution, the rated carbon which was in the last 50 years. we know we can get dna from stuff older than that. the oldest oldest genome is from a horse that we found in the klondike, in this location of north. it was found with volcanic ash layer that we know is 700,000 years old. the only reason it has any dna
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surviving and it is the permafrost is that old. the dirt that it was deposited in his presence and the horse tie. that's the only reason it survive that long. we have to know how old it is for looking up population change through time. that's a challenge. >> thank you all very much for coming. [applause]. >> has 2015 wraps up, c-span presents congress, year in review, look back at the newsmaking issues, debates, and hearings that took center stage on capitol hill this year. join us thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern as we revisit mitch mcconnell taking his position as senate majority leader.
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the historic address to the joint session of congress, the resignation of house speaker john boehner, and the election of paul ryan. the debate over the nuclear deal with iran, and reaction from congress on mass shootings here and abroad. good here and abroad. good control, terrorism, the rise of isis, congress year in review, on c-span, thursday 8:0. >> this new year's weekend, american history tv on c-span three has three days of feature programming. beginning friday afternoon at 310 eastern, pamela smith hill, editor pioneer girl, the annotative autobiography. discusses life of laura ingalls wilder, comparing and contrasting the tv show book series to the real-life of laura ingalls wilder. >> all wanted to write about people, places, memories that were not only to her personally but would resonate with adult readers. so, as a reviewer they pointed out pioneer girl indeed contains
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dark scenes of domestic abuse, love triangles gone awry and a man who lit himself on fire while drunk on whiskey. then saturday evening james swanson compares the assassinations of president abraham lincoln and john f. kennedy. highlighting similarities and differences between both tragedies. at ten p.m., the the 1965 nbc's meet the press interview with daniel moynahan, who assistant labor secretary authored a report on the causes of black poverty in the united states. >> i believe what president johnson said in his howard university speech, you cannot keep a man and change for three centuries, take the chains often say you're free to run life. people have to be given the opportunity to compete with effective resources. i believe we should make a special effort. sunday night at 930, a visit to
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the park in washington d.c. about a new national world war i memorial for its upcoming 100th anniversary. for a complete schedule go to >> , science and technology reporter john markoff on his book, machines of loving grace. the grace. the quest for common ground between humans and robots. he spoke at the computer history museum in mountain view, california. >> john markoff has been seen around the corners of the future is one of the nation's top technology writers since he joined the new york times in 1988. in 2013 he won the pulitzer prize for explanatory reporting, as prize for explanatory reporting, as part of a team of new york times reporters. is everyone host a moderator for a revolutionary series and we love john for all those reasons.
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but, we have a special affection for john for other reasons as well. he is a child of silicon valley. he grandpa went to high school here. he started covering he started covering technology in silicon valley in 1976. his book, what the dormouse said, illuminated the influence of the 60s counterculture of the valley on the personal revolution and he did so in a way nobody else had or has. once more he looks around the corner toward a new future of technology with his brilliant book, machines of machines of loving grace, the quest for common ground between humans and robots. if you're keen enough to catch the literary reference in the phrase, what the dormouse said, you may also understand the cultural reference of this book's title, it comes from a 1967 poem by richard brautigan which and in its entirety said this. i would like to think, it has to be of a cybernetic ecology where we are free of our labors and
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return to our mammals brothers and sisters and i watched over by machines of loving grace. that was brautigan's vision almost 50 years ago, we are here tonight to probe the provocative question loving grace, or something else? else? please chime in walking mean john markoff [applause]. welcome. thank you. you are among friends, this is the home team [applause]. i don't know anything about this, you're the expert. i mention that you are a child of silicon valley and you have mentioned it a lot while you
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have been here. i just wanted to ask you, what does it mean to you to be a technology writer was so much of your personal dna coming from silicon valley? >> what does it mean to me? it took me a long time, as a kid i did not realize i was in a special place. i had no idea. actually played in the hewlett's house when eyes in first grade. virginia was a classmate all the way through. i delivered papers at the house of steve jobs, i would like to say there goes the neighborhood. i wrote my last book, dormouse because i left the day for almost a decade. it was an anti- biography.
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i came back and i discover there is an amazing new industry and i wanted to find out how it got there. it started as a serious in world history which i love doing. it's part of the air i breathe in a sense. i grew up with it. it's also so generational. i grew up with a particular generation and now things have moved on. the wonderful piece of research that was done about a year ago and what he did with cgl located the center silicon valley, once upon a time in the early 80s now it's at the foot of the trail hill. you can feel it, scott from a manufacturing center and it's in a different place.
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generationally i feel i can barely touch with it. i went up to the section in 2010, i look at it -- i grew up as a reporter it was like swimming in the sea. i was part of a group of people, now i'm distant from that which is still very real. >> so in that see, because you have seen other oceans around the world as you cover technology, before we get to the robots part of this, have you ever been able to discern what it is about silicon valley that sets it apart from so many other places that are trying to capture this mojo? >> there have been moments. personally the moment i got silicon valley, there is a point in time when i thought i understood it. it was probably a 1981, there is
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something called the big blue computer company -- big blue it was a computer hobbyist group -- big blue something. it was an ibm pc computer group. it mad at dyson and sunnyvale. it had the same flavor as the home group at the ibm pc was the new thing on the block. i went to a meeting, there crunch was walking around the back room, this 300 guys in white shirts and pocket protectors. there are guys. richards got up on states and she was a really a great reporter, she she basically interviewed this audience of people like you, won't she said,
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how many of you people want to start your own company? three quarters of the hands went up. and i said oh i get it. at that point is very clear that people felt deeply of if they had a good idea they could start a company and as part of the dna of silicon valley. there's other bits of history. i used to tell the story, why did silicon valley happen to the first point is that shockley came back because his mother was here. then there is this other point which i think is important, that that is the first at&t antitrust lawsuit, one of the deals that at&t made with the government in the 1950s was a mandatory free licensing of transistors. that hadn't happened, no silicon valley. then there's this thing and congress that allowed the
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creation of venture capital is inches the synergy of those three things -- i've always said that is what the valley is about. it's about learning something new from david brock who wrote the biography of gordon rower. this is in my book because he was in the archives looking through newspaper and he stumbled across a memo that shockley wrote probably in 1952. he made this case for bell labs to build something like he called the automatic trainable robot. rod brooks who started, we think of robotics baxter he just gave his employees the text of this document known could tell what the date was. he laid out the notion of whatever google might be doing
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now. so the connection is it makes important for silicon valley's that he went to beckman interest remits, he did not go there to make a transistor company, transistor company, he went to ask a robot company. there are robotics at the root of silicon valley. i didn't know that. he wanted beckman to build the robot size. in that kind of evolved into a transistor. the original vision was about robots. so here we are 50 years later. >> what a perfect said way into the whole discussion of robots. this book seems to have captured the national imagination. your your book tour has been extensive. you have been at a lot of places. it's doing well. what is it about our current fascination with robot has met your
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expertise as a writer. why do you think that is right now? >> my last book to her about driving to san jose. much smaller. so, i have a theory and i can't do it but i'll throw it out there. you know how we make fun of the japanese for being robot crazy, i actually think americans are as obsessed with robots as japanese we just do not acknowledge it. the differences we we have a love-hate relationship with robots. you see it everywhere. you you can turn around without seeing some sort of robot obsessed component, science fiction, movies, the whole thing. i think it's episodic. this has happened periodically since the invention -- initial computers, the book cyber --
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there is this alarm about the arrival of automation. he had some very clear views about that. than a decade later, there is another sense of alarm in the united states and people wrote them manifesto, there's a full on government investigation on automation. the vietnam war happen and it went away because we got distracted. then of the last three or four years it has gone up again because this new way of technology that is starting to work. ai, as a field is overpromised and under delivered so many times over its history. so it's created anxiety. >> i want to get to the rise and fall of ai. right up front you say something
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sobering. you say how we design and overact with our intelligent machine will determine the nature of our society and our economy. it will increasingly determine every aspect of our modern world whether we live in a more or less stratified society to what it means to be human. she john, to betty then pick a book with some higher stakes. you deliver again and again in the book with that observation. >> the other day someone asked me what it is to be human? i i kind of have an answer to that question. humanity is rooted in the interaction between individuals, what is human is this thing of culture. now we are getting these machines and increasingly intelligent. as a species we talk to
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everything, we talked our cars, we talked our pets. as machines we are building talk back to us you're going to have to have a relationship. it is very clear that people will treat these things as autonomous beings, whether they are not. it's already happening. i wrote a story in the book about this microsoft experiment that is going on right now in china called gel ice. at the chat box. it's a chat bot. you type, and it response to you. they have gradually gotten better over time, now we are applying the internet, deep learning, big data, there is sort of an uptick. i've been dealing with since
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1991, none are very believable. both siri and quintana are productivity tools. the designers of siri was to get something done. you ask a question i do get something done. gel gel ice is designed as a companion. 20,000,000 registered users, users, 10 million use it intensively, multiple conversations per day. 25% of gel ice users have set i love you too gel ice, 5050% have said thank you. it was even creeping up the microsoft designers. then i have this interesting conversation with a woman who is the former ibm researcher, she is chinese, she said you know when we come to your country it feels quiet. in china, interactions are so densely, people in contacts all
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the time. her her view is gel ice is private space. they call it toilet time. they go to the bathroom and have long conversations with gel ice. this is real. this is the world of her, were stepping into her. >> it sounds like her, does. as we get into this, there's another another important definition that you make early on in the book about artificial intelligence. you talk about those who believe a. i. will replace humans replace humans and those who believe a. i. will augment human capability. it's at the very root of the case. explain why it's important to understand that. >> it's a dichotomy and i'll talk about that. it's a dichotomy and paradox. there is no easy way out of it.
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i notice when i was writing dormouse that in the early 60s there were two labs on the side of the campus. john mccarthy created in 1962, at that time he believed building a working ai to take a decade. on the other side of campus, doug engelbert set out to build technology to augment human beings. their philosophical glia post. i struck by that because those two labs really touched on two separate communities in the computing world. the ai community and the human augmenting. i realized they to use ai technologies that are designed to augment humans as opposed to displacement.
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look for examples throughout the book of people who have crossed over. >> ..
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>> >> have we been expecting that we are human and would replace us
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>> >> there was almost no autonomy there l all. but it's with a small amount of autonomy that you would seek to draw a circle on the screen then the machine could grab the door knob.
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but it that had some behavior that was autonomous. and there are technologies that are out there but is statistical with the perception is in technology but i don't think it will come as quickly as they think in they are getting increasingly familiar with that human of augmentation and questioned and to say awad autonomy was like to say but what will happen relatively soon with that social benefit. is that right?
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>> i continue to evolves but those are real killers that keep us from complete the selfie drive the cars for a long time. that is somebody to do -- ruth teetoo dinner i would pay for dinner. google went down that path it is almost 1 million miles and to their branch point to say there are problems that we cannot solve. to get in to a different regulatory regime and what did they get enough attention when they hit the
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bicyclist they may not kill them which i hear that nothing is perfect. then they ran to the handoff. but with those professional drivers and then they began experimenting at the end of a long day that was distracted behavior. that is a handoff problem you will not solve. i am sorry. there is no way anyone can solve that problem for a long time and until we are entirely at of the loop and
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those that did not crash. en next year we will have super cruz and largely they had this on the market already. but it's the slow speed driving system faugh where the car drives by itself up to and including comedy miles an hour then though lawyers got involved so of those technologies that will make driving safer. >> yew hedges given some
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statistics that 34,000 people died in car accidents and those with commercial drivers in there is that much displacement would is up with that? >> of course, all the drivers say they're still doing research for the workers but it is called the earth is a to there is a study at columbia, blood dash comparing the economics of robot)=>
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the. >> about two and half million jobs. so in jerry jobs or technical jobs it is a much more complicated subjects. if it was my reporting in 2010 reporting on the fact that $35 an hour paralegal to be displaced that kicked off the frenzy. and at one point in my hair was on fire of the impact of the robotics in china. what happens when the robots
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come to china? the economist says he don't get it they are coming justin time. that china is a rapidly aging economy believe robots in their work force than if you're looking at china or japan in japanese society is imploding on a self. book at europe which is also aging very rapidly. >> spending $1 billion and if you look at those
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outtakes you don't want those robots anywhere near grandma. [laughter] we have a lot of work to do. so the people who are worried so how do explain right now in america 140 million people the labor force participation is declining. with the main street because of this technology is a small part of it. >> let me remind everybody in the audience if you want to be involved in the discussion. there is a great chapter in our book for the human race
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that could be a bad year what is supposed to happen? >> his view of the acceleration is that we are absolutely. i grew up in silicon valley in the they get faster faster and cheaper faster. and at this point to to be accelerating as fast as i can. end one generation where is
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all of that curve. in the wars lot is doubling at two years in a row so for a long time is so they went to parallelism. most recently we have slipped there is dark silicon the you cannot turn off all the transistors at the same time or it will melt third. >> furthermore that the cost
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of transistors that if that is true you would get to the design and with free performance and lower cost everybody but until says that is broken or has stopped. so those exponential is around the corner i am super skeptical. >> that is the year's 2045? >> data now where they are now but it was 2027. >> so i have this wonderful moment at the stanford resilience this summer in the former pentium designer was talking about these problems


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