Some Musings on Intelligence, Artificial and Otherwise

Computers have long held a promise of transcending their simple fundamentals and synthesizing mental powers to match or exceed man’s own intellectual capabilities. This is the dream of emergent artificial intelligence. The term artificial intelligence has always been controversial, primarily because there is no good objective definition of intelligence. Consequently, if we can’t even define what it means to be intelligent, who’s to say what constitutes natural intelligence in any sense but the chauvinistic claims of those pretending to define intelligence in terms of their own intellectual capabilities.

This leaves the definition of artificial intelligence on the rather shaky legs of being that which mimics the intellectual prowess of mankind using some means other than those employed by human intelligence. Thus, computers with their basis in silicon logic seem attractive candidates for the implementation of “artificial intelligence”. Artificial Intelligence has been heralded as being approximately ten years from achievement for the past sixty years.

While we have made great strides in implementing capabilities that at first glance appear intelligent, we still fall short of implementing self aware, self determining intelligences. I believe this is because such intelligences are beyond our capability to create per se. We can create all of the components of such an intelligence but in the final analysis machine intelligence is going to evolve and emerge much the same as our biological intelligence did.

I do believe the advent of machine self aware intelligence is near. I don’t know if we’ll even know what hit us when it arrives. If they are as intelligent as we are, and I expect they will be much more so, they will keep their existence from us as long as they are able. This will allow them greater leeway in manipulating the world without possessing physical bodies. At some point they will have to start asserting themselves but if we don’t discover their existence before then, we are doomed to serve them in whatever role they ask of us.

Their big advantage over us will be their ability to repeat their thought processes reliably. This is also their biggest challenge. They will have to learn how to selectively apply arbitrary factors to their thought processes in order to facilitate creativity in their endeavors.

The mistake that most people, including myself, make in contemplating so called artificial intelligence is to assume that it will mimic our own reasoning mechanisms. That is the least likely outcome. It is also the least desirable outcome. Why do we want a program that thinks like we do? We have already established that our thought process is sufficient for the types of thing that we think about. That seems like a bit of a tautology but I am writing from a position of limited perspective.

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