|ALLOW ME TO COMFORT YOU
Concerning your Worries over A I
A couple questions about ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
So, (let’s say) THEY have developed a great machine that answers ALL of Dreyfus’ objections.
It has a sense of what else is going on around it and can shift its focus to more immediate matters.
It distinguishes between relevant and irrelevant matters.
It recognized any word with various contextual meanings correctly.
It knows the difference between a tiger and a lion.
Additionally this machine answers all of Searle’s objections, making the leap from syntax to semantics.
It can indeed do everything your brain can do. We don’t know how they have accomplished this; it’s
privileged (and highly advanced) information, requiring processes that can only be truly understood
by every single person on earth under the age of 23.
So, here’s my problem with that:
SCENARIO ONE: OK, so this great machine is sitting there ticking away, thinking swell thoughts, and
its battery is wearing down. Here’s a question: Does this great machine have the common sense and
the ability to feed itself (re-charge its own batteries or plug itself iin)?
SCENARIO TWO: So this great machine is sitting there ticking away, thinking the kind of thoughts
which make it the Voltaire of AI, and—I don’t know what a brick is doing up there—but a brick falls
down from the ceiling above. There is plenty of warning; the janitor, with an IQ of 4, sees the brick
about to fall and he shouts at the great machine; “LOOK OUT!” he warns. “DUCK!” he shouts as he
dives under a table. The great machine understands perfectly what the man is saying, but fails to take
any action, and is smashed to bits by the brick.
So, there’s another reasonable question: Does this great machine have survival instincts?
To my way of thinking, this great machine—whatever else it can do—must have the ability to fend for
itself; it must be able to feed itself and possess an instinct for survival.
Until it has that, there’ll be no revolution.
originally published September 2010