Artificial intelligence: not so intelligent after all?

To The Economist

Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Intelligence is an attribute of living things, and can best be defined as the use of information to further survival and reproduction. When a computer resists being switched off, or a robot worries about the future for its children, then, and only then, may intelligence flow.

I acknowledge Richard Sutton’s “bitter lesson”, that attempts to build human understanding into computers rarely work, although there is nothing new here. I was aware of the folly of anthropomorphism as an AI researcher in the mid-1980s. We learned to fly when we stopped emulating birds and studied lift. Meaning and knowledge don’t result from symbolic representation; they relate directly to the visceral motives of survival and reproduction. Great strides have been made in widening the applicability of algorithms, but as Mr Sutton says, this progress has been fuelled by Moore’s law. What we call AI is simply pattern discovery. Brilliant, transformative and powerful, but just pattern discovery.

Further progress is dependent on recognising this simple fact, and abandoning the fancy that intelligence can be disembodied from a living host.  (Rob MacDonald, Richmond, North Yorkshire. (letter to The Week 11 July 2020)

My thought: As I thought, not so intelligent after all.

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