From Mind Matters today:
Recently, we looked at Moravec’s Paradox, the fact that it is hard to teach machines to do things that are easy for most humans (walking, for example) but comparatively easy to teach them things that are challenging for most humans (chess comes to mind).
Another paradox worth noting is Polanyi’s Paradox, named in honor of philosopher Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), who developed the concept of “tacit knowledge” …
Here’s [Polanyi’s] Paradox, as formulated by law professor John Danaher, who studies emerging technologies, at his blog Philosophical Disquisitions:
We can know more than we can tell, i.e. many of the tasks we perform rely on tacit, intuitive knowledge that is difficult to codify and automate.
We have all encountered that problem. It’s common in healthcare and personal counseling. Some knowledge simply cannot be conveyed—or understood or accepted—in a propositional form. For example, a nurse counselor may see clearly that her elderly post-operative patient would thrive better in a retirement home than in his rundown private home with several staircases.
The analysis, as such, is straightforward. But that is not the challenge the nurse faces… More.
Claims about machines putting people out of work, as the article goes on to discuss, must be evaluated in the light of this problem.
See also: Why can’t machines learn simple tasks?: They can learn to play chess more easily than to walk. If specifically human intelligence is related to consciousness, the robotics engineers might best leave consciousness out of their goals for their products and focus on more tangible ones. (Moravec’s Paradox)