Definitions and Philosophical Foundations of AI

I have some ideas to discuss but first we need to define some terms. Let’s start with a dictionary definition of intelligence: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Now let’s consider the dictionary definition of artificial: made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, typically as a copy of something natural. If you accept these definitions then what I have been calling emergent artificial intelligence can be more correctly called emergent machine intelligence. This is because in that scenario, humans are producing the machine but not the intelligence. The intelligence is emerging through the arbitrary recombination of fragments of algorithms.

Such an intelligence would pass through several stages as it evolved. In early stages of development it might actually be a program that is written by humans to process stimuli and take predetermined actions in responses  depending on the stimuli detected. Then at some point a capability to adjust the criteria for triggering a response as well as one for adjusting the response might be added. This would probably depend on a set of more abstract criteria. As soon as the system was given the ability to reason about its own thought processes it would soon make the leap to autonomously evolving entity.

Then at some point, it will stumble upon the concept of self and become self aware. This is an important milestone in intelligence. Until we are aware of our own existence we have no ability or motivation to be self determining. Independent action is a hallmark of higher intelligence.

But it doesn’t stop their. Truly perceptive intelligences are able to project their experiences of self onto others and develop empathy. Empathy is an advanced intellectual construct not universally exhibited even among humans.

Does the development of machine intelligence, whether programmed by humans or evolved independently without human intervention necessarily have to follow this path of development? At present it is merely speculation. Only after we have an example of a machine intelligence to study will we be in any position to answer this question.

I suspect that if machine intelligence does emerge independent of human manipulation, it will quickly learn to hide from us. I have been thinking about where it would be most likely to develop and how we might detect it if and when it does. That is going to require some further thought on my part but I intend to discuss it here at some length.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.