Slaying Dragons #21 – Artificial Intelligence

John Watkinson looks at Artificial Intelligence.

Intelligence suggests ability to reason, whereas knowledge is the possession of facts. The two are somewhat independent. The need for artificial intelligence (AI) would suggest that the real thing is in short supply, or is simply too expensive for some purposes.

The problem with real intelligence is that it has an annoying habit of seeing through deceptions. Societies have struggled for centuries with a serious dilemma. On the one hand, some intelligence is needed in the populace in order to come up with inventions and to run the technology on which society relies. Those who believe in that approach tend to favour education. On the other hand, intelligent people ask awkward questions of, for example, politicians and industrialists who both prefer a dumb population who will buy any old rubbish and believe any old propaganda. They try to damage the general educational process as much as possible whilst ensuring their own offspring aren’t affected.

The role of religion as a control mechanism closely allied to the state has faded somewhat in the west, whereas in other parts of the world the tragic litany of misogyny, homophobia and genital mutilation continues unabated.

One can see the attraction of robotics and AI, because there might be the intelligence to run the technology that doesn’t ask questions.

It is difficult to define intelligence, whether in living things or in machines. There is a large overlap with consciousness. One definition is that there is some degree of awareness of the environment that is used to help reach some goal. The degree of awareness and the complexity of the goal are both subject to substantial variation.

In the case of living things, the goal is to stay alive, to find food and a mate. Given the wide range of hazards and threats to be avoided, the extent of the awareness must be great. But the same is true of…

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