I'm continually troubled by the way we assume we have a formal meaning for the word "intelligence" whether it be artificial or organic. Then we blithely jump to the conclusion that a software program executed within one or more servers will be equivalent to whatever we end up meaning by the word "intelligence." We also, by delicious irony, unconsciously assume that "intelligence" is linked to "consciousness" - another word for which we have no formal meaning (by formal I mean rigorously mathematically defined). So we conflate two things for which we have no formal meanings, and we instantly transpose these vaguenesses into magic computer/machines. Which is, frankly several steps too far. AI is basically repetitive pattern recognition requiring data curation and a great deal of human-initiated selection. It may look impressive (sometimes...) from the outside but those who work in the field of AI know it's actually quite a limited sort of magic. Furthermore, the more we learn about the very limited and sporadic sort of human consciousness, the more we understand it's primarily rooted in a range of highly physical processes, all of which would presumably need to be replicated or simulated for a computer program to get anywhere near our own "intelligence." Additionally most of our behaviors are associated with the business of pushing our DNA forward in time; what equivalent does a software program sitting in a server have? In theory we could eventually, presumably, create large enough and sophisticated enough programs to sort-of reproduce human "consciousness" and "intelligence" but why bother? That would be no different from trying to create a purely mechanical horse in order to travel from San Francisco to San Diego. Why not instead invent trains, automobiles, and airplanes - all of which are more suited to the task? In other words, why chase pointless objectives? It is difficult to imagine any application of human-like AI worth the enormous effort and time and cost. Conversely it is very easy to imagine a great many applications for ordinary boring AI - the sort that will never be "conscious" or "intelligent" in any manner we would recognize as being similar to our own. Just as gods don't exist, self-aware AI is unlikely ever to come into existence either.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store