Saturday, January 30, 2016

Taking the Scenic Route to Megadon

We often see ourselves, in a triumph of conceit, as the ‘Crown of Creation,’ so it makes sense in a way that we would be the ones to edge closer to putting the intelligence into artificial intelligence, AI. 

Left to our own devices we’ve made a right hash of things from centuries with an occasional ray of sun, the Renaissance and the Age of Reason, among the grey and black clouds of the Middle Ages and much if not most of the 20th Century. 

We could well use a hand, I suppose, as we wander this old earth but I’m not sure how happy we should be about this breakthrough.  We’ve not only developed machines that think (actually, that’s old hat) and can be trained to think like us (that’s been around for a decade or more) but now, as I read this and other articles on what the human intelligence behind DeepMind has done, we’ve created an artificially intelligent machine that thinks for itself.

It’s intriguing (at least to me) that ethicists worldwide have been engaged in a discussion on AI that parallels rhetoric about the unborn in American political life leaving at the core the same as yet unanswered question, at what point do we say ‘human?’

I’m more concerned with what we do with that answer (assuming it’s found and I’d wager it will be by AI itself) and am wondering if John McCarthy had moments of disquiet as he helped lead and develop the foundation for this Brave New World beyond imagination.

Whether that next world proves to be better or somewhat less than what we might have evolved to by ourselves is hopelessly beyond my ability to foresee, as is what could prove to be the disposition and deployment of “another toy that helped destroy the elder race of man.
-bill kenny   

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