It is written in all newspapers, artificial intelligence is about to assist us more and more. It is going to slip here and there into our life, among others notably to help us make decisions. Of course it will ease our life. No need to think anymore if the computer does it for us. Such a relief.
By the way, how does it work?
I am not a research scientist, but I remember my computer studies and I rely on my daily profesional occupation to figure out. The computer is a machine that striclty perfoms what it is told to do. If a computer makes mistakes, then either it has a failure or it has been given absurd instructions. The computer cannot take initiatives, it cannot invent anything, it can only execute orders.
What about intelligence. According to Wikipedia : "The term is derived fom Latin intellegentia, « ability to understand », the prefixe inter- (« between »), and the radical legere (« to choose, to pick ») or ligare (« to link ») basically implies the ability to bind elements with each other."
The terms choose and link seem essential to me. Making the right choice, linking it with relevant knowledge according to the context. That is intelligence. It enables to extrapolate the known to discover the unknown.
The first observation that we can make is that the computer is not intelligent at all, for it is unable to choose. It runs programs. It chooses what it is required to choose. It links what it is required to link. We can infer that articifial intelligence is about writing programs that enable a computer to simulate the choices and links that a human would make in a specific situation.
How to automatically simulate the choices and links of a human being? Such a system requires 3 elements :
- a library to store the potential choices
- rules to choose and link
- a learning mechanism to enrich the library and the rules
This could be a sum up of the principles of artifical intelligence. Wonderful, isn't it? I personally consider this to be a disaster.
Let's think a little bit about it. What prompts a human being to choose, link and learn? It is the need, the desire and natural evolution. Our body has needs, our heart has wants, our mind is looking forward to understand. In order to fullfill these lacks, we fetch our knowledge, we cleverely combine them, we integrate new ones. When facing unseen situations, we need to innovate to keep on moving our own way.
It is normal to use artificial intelligence to improve our way to handle tools and carry on processes. It is a very good thing for computers to carry on tedious tasks for us. But it is such a misery that artificial intelligence claims to assist or replace human intelligence. The computer can only rely on a system of sophisticated statistics to "choose", "link" and "learn", because it has no need, no desire, no spark of personal development.
We have deficient and toxic artificial food to replace the nourishing and tasty natural food. We use local and aggressive artificial drugs, that had us loose faith in our powerful holistic natural healing forces. Our time zones are artificial, our life is not tuned on solar time. When we are popular, we have hundreds or thousands of electronic friends through artificial social networks. Even in romantic restaurants, LED has remplaced the warm flame of the candles in photophores. Everything is becoming more and more artificial in our lives. And now it is up to intelligence to become artificial. It seems like very soon, statistics will remplace creativity. It seems like standardization will remplace imagination. How far will the sheeping of humanity spread?
A urban myth claims that the computer is so powerfull that it will soon surpass the human being.
If "intelligence" means "choose link learn" then the computer is not even close to measuring up to the human being. A human being left alone in the desert will display utmost ingenuity in order to survive. If a computer is left alone then nothing happens. Ideed. After a while, a little warning light blinks to signal that the battery is empty.
If "intelligence" means "making plenty of complex mathematical calculations very fast" then we may feel like the computer is more intelligent than the human being, but it's wrong. The proof is clear. Scientists are dreaming to grow human neurons in a lab to integrate them into a computer. According to their expectations, such a computer would be far more powerfull than any machine built so far. It means that our neurons are able to perform infinitely more mathematical computations than the most powerfull of all computers.
It makes sense. Managing our body requires infinite calculation. It must calculate the route of our limbs, pilot the organs moves, monitor and regulate the level of hormons, salt, sugar, temperature, the oxygen rate, the pressure at various parts of the body. It must check the state of billions of cells and replace the worn out ones. Recycle and dispose the wastes, check the comings and goings of the cells to spot and destroy the intruders. Catch and decode the data coming from the senses. Generate digital images, touch sensations, sounds. Control gravity and correct the balance of the body. It must chemically break out the ingested food, store the useful elements, discard the rest, filter water and treat the oils. There is also the breath, the heart, wound healing, let's not forget the thoughts and emotions...
I don't think that there is a computer in this world, which is able to manage such a complex system, where all parameters depend on each others in real time. Tremendous computation capacity is mandatory to complete this mission. Human neurons have a tremendous computation capacity. Are we unable to make a lot of mental calculation? It makes sense, such is not our purpose. Making billions of real time calculations is a low level task, performed by our own computer, executed by our subconscious thanks to neurons working in a body wide network. We can force ourself to perform low level computation but usually we find that tedious and boring, because we have a high level role. Analysis, imagination, creativity, design, intuition, fit better our purpose.
I think that the computer is a projection of the human being's functioning. A computer cannot do anything on its own. It ends up switching off when it runs out of electricity. A computer operated by an intelligent person will perform intelligent things. A computer operated by a stupid person will perform stupid things. It is the user that makes the computer shine intelligent or not.
In the same way, our body is fitted with a huge network of sensors, nerves, neurons, plexus and a sophisticated central management system located inside our skull. This organic computer system cannot do anyhting on its own. It needs a spirit to use it in an intelligent or stupid way. A will, a soul, is required for this complex biological system to live and evolve. Deprived from a spirit, the body dies and decays.
A user can change his computer, if the one that he owns doesn't suit him anymore. In the same way, our spirit lives then leaves its body when its existence doesn't suit it aymore. The former body dies and decays while the spirit starts a new life, with a body that suit more its ambitions.
It seems to me that it is vain to establish a foolish competition between the human being and the computer, to find out which is stronger. Computers and human beings are of different nature, just like the spirit and the body are not of the same nature. Each has its purpose. One is a tool aiming at being reliable, efficient and handy. The other is the chief, the one who gives orders and manages the activities, with a total confidence in the capacities of its daily tool.