Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

This is not the end of the arms race.

At some point we will have AI designing and AI delivering ads, and while we may have AI designed to prevent us from having to watch ads we don't want we will also have AI that watches everything, gathering and filtering information that is too much for us to handle but tuned to our needs since it's "our AI". Then the race will be that one AI wants to trick the consumer AI into giving their information more weight and attention.

So instead of the race humans against humans we'll have a race humans => AI ("sellers" of anything, from goods to news) => AI (consumers) => human (us).

It's going to be a lot more complex: Right now all that people on both sides have to know is human psychology. In that future they'll have to understand the potentially far more varied world of possible AIs - and if that isn't enough the complex interactions between them and also between the AIs and the humans.

Are we creating the diversity and complexity that we remove from the biosphere (the ongoing mass extinction and/or reduction of many species) anew but in a completely different space? In addition to technical systems we are also getting much better (and better faster!) in controlling biological systems, creating our own ideas. At least some programmers of the future will write their code in DNA - or possibly even something more complex, something that can encode completely new proteins that the current code can't represent. And then there's combining biology and technology... an explosion of complexity and diversity?

I studied CS more than two decades ago. I kept up to date and continue to do the odd course in my field, but what I consider an amazing experience (for an IT guy) was when I spent the last few years taking hundreds of hours of courses in biology and medicine. Looking for new ideas? Take an introduction to biology and genetics course instead of learning an only very mildly different programming language, for example (free): https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-biology-secret-life-...

Check out "General Adversarial Networks". It's basically training a two-part AI via an arms race; one part is trying to fake out the other, the other is trying to detect the fake.

Small fix, I believe it's "Generative" Adversarial Networks.

You are correct sir.

> Check out "General Adversarial Networks"

Another way to describe GANs is that the loss function, which used to be hand-made, now is a whole separate neural net and can be learned bottom-up instead of dictated top-down.

There was a time when features were hand-made. Now we have deep learning and finding good features is automatic. GANs automate another part of the process.

So you start a company to produce two networks with GAN techniques, then sell them as separate products, to the opposing sides...

Essentially how AdBlock operates, without the GAN/ML (yet)

Yeah, "end of the arms race", are you kidding me Vice?

I see 13 year olds watching their favorite youtube stars showing off the new products they're being sponsored with this week. How exactly would you block this?

That's a very good point. But maybe it's a theoretical end of the arms race when it comes to predatory ads. I will take ads spoken by the host of a YouTube channel over autoplaying videos, adult dating banners, scrolljacking, and annoying modals any day. If all those things get replaced by advertising that is essentially voluntary and not deceptive or wasteful of computing power, then the ad blocking war may be won. We'll see.

Also, your username. lol

Assuming vice is right and this is the end of it and people use it, how do you expect youtube to stay online once google lose its advertising revenue ? This product placement problem just solved itself.

Streaming video on the scale of youtube or facebook is not sustainable due to bandwidth cost.

That's just a return to how video advertising worked initially on TV, where Boston Blackie would light up a Lucky Strike and casually comment on how great it was in the middle of the action.

This is an asymmetrical game because most ads are meant to be recognized as such (product placement and sponsored content are subtler than that). So the anti ad AI has an advantage over the ad publishing one. If an ad gets through because the adblocker doesn't recognizes it AI probably the reader won't notice it too.

You assume ads will be recognizable as such, but even today we have ads that few people recognize. From waves of reddit /r/funny posts about certain sitcoms or sugary beverages to product placements in articles, shows, films to magazine and news articles, not always recognizable as ads because often they are not actually ads but actual articles that only happen to mention some products. Very nice for publishers who get whole articles that they don't have to do much to produce.

So even today even 100% human "ad blockers" are unable to block a lot of ads because they are unaware they are looking at one.

Even mentioning /r/HailCorporate in a Reddit thread generates hostility and defensiveness from people angry at the thought that they upvoted what amounts to an ad, even if it wasn't overtly one.

Ads as content works really well, so well that people refuse to believe it. Huh? It's just a funny picture of a tall, frosty bottle of Coca-Cola!

Soon Adsense will offer server-side content placement instead of just 3rd-party-served banner ads. People act like the arms race is over because they added some entries into a hosts file. Not even close.

I am fine with ads that are subtle enough to pass by an AI guardian. What I want to kill is stuff that dominates the page space, can't be ignored, follows you down the page as you scroll, autoplays video, runs so many scripts that my cooling fan spins up to full speed...

I don't object to the existence of advertising. I object to advertising that is intrusive and/or resource-intensive enough to impair site usability. (And malware served over ad networks, of course, but that's a bit different as a problem.)

My issue with advertisements is that they are designed to be manipulative, esp. emotionally. "Smart, young, beautiful people" buy this product - don't you want to be like them? The ads that are strictly informational ("This product exists, here is why!") typically don't make good advertisements or are so poorly done that they become a form of comedy.

Ads subtle enough to get past an "AI Guardian" mean they are meant to influence your behavior. That is my issue with advertisements and why I actively refuse to purchase products I'm introduced to through advertising.


I'd like to clarify that by "make good advertisements" I mean as in the goal of advertisements (get people to buy) and not "good" as in "acceptable".

You could train an AI to rewrite manipulative psychology out of all content.

Has the added bonus of fixing a lot of news in the process.

(Okay, so it's slightly more complicated in practice -- you would have to reduce the manipulative content there, and then add back a certain chosen bias so the reduced manipulation is overpowered by the chosen one.)

I'm more concerned about ads that subtly and insidously impair my life, than ads that overtly impair a website.

No you won't because that's ilegal. An advertisement must be clearly understood as such (at least in EU) and in fact (for instance) now the channels in here are actually having to tell you that you are about to see advertisements.

So, no, we won't have AI tuning the advertisements so that they can't be catch by software like this one because that means it also wouldn't be catch by humans and that a very big no.

I can see this as a paradigm change in the internet it's true, and it's hard to see the full reprecursions of this all.

Then again, I think that if we get back to sane advertisements in web pages, that are just a couple of lines of text clearly marked as such (like Google ads used to be), then people would be ok not using an ad blocker in those cases. The thing is, the marketing companies just pushed it too far...

I think it's myopic to dismiss this based on legality; companies of all sizes frequently flout laws and regulations. I agree that it's difficult to see the big picture (we didn't even see the paradigm shift of smartphones coming - there's no way anyone can be expected to predict how the advertising landscape will look in 15 years) but I certainly don't envisage a return to vintage era Google Ads. We tend to forget that (mostly due to this echo chamber in which we're participating) that regular people don't think like us and without the momentum of a large group, a reversion is unlikely to be affected.

That said, WRT GP's post, I don't think it's a million miles off. AI will undoubtedly become a cornerstone of modern life and I don't think the scenario they outline is entirely unlikely. Siri is objectively pretty hopeless, particularly when compared to its counterparts but it's been a nice clue as to what we can expect from modern innovation.

I'm not sure what to make of your comment, it's a little.. "weltfremd" (unworldly says the dictionary, not sure if that conveys the same meaning as in German though). There are MANY ways around it. It is like lobbying: Bribes are clearly not allowed, and yet politicians can easily be bought without actually breaking any laws.

The problem with that attitude is that when you are looking for bad things you are looking for intent, which is really not necessary for bad things to happen. This is like looking at individual neurons and not finding psychopathy (or whatever else actually is a system outcome of the network's actions, not of individuals).

I don't think people will understand the point you're making here, so let me recommend the absolutely fabulous analogous exploration of your point in David Brin's Existence. http://www.davidbrin.com/existence.html

Native ads will always evade this tool.

Also the end composition of the page can reveal to javascript what is or is not removed

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact