[Google AI researcher] Francois Chollet is right to recognize that we, like all animals, come pre-wired. Young deer stand, leap, and run within hours of birth. Birds build nests without prior instruction. Squirrels bury and find nuts. We speak and juggle abstract thoughts. But basic chemistry does not create language; while speaking may require chemical bonding and signaling, language rests on something more. Vision is another “chicken and egg” problem: The best human eye in the world is worthless without a nervous system to transmit the signals and a mind to interpret them. Chollet recognizes that these abilities are “required for human intelligence” so that it can make use of a human body. What he neglects to ponder is whence did they come? How does intelligence arise? Chollet raised the question without answering it.
He, unintentionally, introduces the same tension when he discusses feral children— children raised, literally, by animals in the wild. Unless rescued young, these children never develop into full, social humans; they remain unable to use human language. His point is that we require culture to develop culture and use our intelligence. I think you can see the problem: If we need culture to function, then whence came the culture in which we have all been raised? Which is the chicken and which is the egg?
I strongly support Chollet’s core observations. The super-intelligent AI myth is little more than a replacement “god” for those uncomfortable with traditional theism. It is an article of faith. And, like all uncritically held articles of faith, it induces blindness: blindness both to the real problems AI can cause (when we cede unwarranted control to the machines) and to the stunning magnitude of the human mind. More.
* Brendan Dixon is a Software Architect with experience designing, creating, and managing projects of all sizes. He first foray into Artificial Intelligence was in the 1980s when he built an Expert System to assist in the diagnosis of software problems at IBM. Though he’s spent the majority of his career on other types of software, he’s remained engaged and interested in the field.
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Also by Brendan Dixon: What Does It Mean to Be Intelligent? (Evolution News and Science Today:, 2016)
“Bob Dylan” is a mechanical mockingbird (Evolution News and Science Today:, 2017)
See also: Software pioneer says general superhuman artificial intelligence is very unlikely
There is no universal moral machine Brendan Dixon’s view of MIT’s Moral Machine is featured.