Mindful of Artificial Intelligence


matrix artificial intelligence baby child pod descartes

In cult film ‘The Matrix’ adapted from the idea of Descartes’ ‘evil demon’, AI has taken over and humans are bred as an energy resource. [Image: Film still from ‘The Matrix’]

Meeting Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Earlier this year I called HMRC for a tax return, in no extraordinary circumstances I was initially greeted and dealt with by an automated voice. However, as I divulged more and more information, it soon became apparent that this automated voice would be dealing with me for the foreseeable phonecall. Far removed from a ‘Please Hold’ scenario and jingle, we went through a series of question and answers.

It stunned me as it started responding to my answers accurately, now I suppose this is not very impressive to Apple users who have had Siri on their phone for quite a long time, but far from a gimmick, this machine dealt with my query quite efficiently.

Robots are encroaching on our professions: Netflix left Blockbuster bust, machines replace checkout attendants, and drones lose no human life are all examples of how the robot is besting humans. Stephen Hawking has previously warned on the dangers of artificial intelligence.

They are more cost-efficient for businesses with only initial and maintenance costs, with the added bonus of not ‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’ just ‘doing’. They make the ideal employees, they don’t have sick days or lazy mornings, but what does that spell for mankind?

Who is smarter?

John Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thought experiment aims to identify the weaknesses of artificial intelligence through superiority in human cognition.

I thought this was quite a good argument before I listened to a podcast by Daniel Denett on philosophy bites. He argues that Searle is belittling the complexity of computers, and the hundreds and thousands lines of code it takes to make a computer complete a task- that to reduce this to a simple data process is a fundamental misunderstanding.

Stealing the idea from the classic film ‘Tron’; robots are just humans with different materials. Sure, we have some work to do in advancing them but we both must refer to the sole ‘motherboard’ before knowing what we are doing- we even live in a tiny delayed reality because of our reliance on senses to give us information.

Their wires are our veins,
Our senses are their sensors,
The battery is the brain.

Is this how all new life comes to be? The invented becomes the inventor creating smaller and smaller worlds ad infinitum.

‘And Man created Robot in his image, in the image of Man he created IT.’
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