Intelligence is not Artificial

Why the Singularity is not Coming any Time Soon And Other Meditations on the Post-Human Condition and the Future of Intelligence

by piero scaruffi
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(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")


A machine is born adult. It's the equivalent of you being born at 25; and never aging until the day that an organ stops working. One of the fundamental facts of human intelligence is that it comes via childhood. First we are children, then we get the person that is writing (or reading) these lines. The physical development of the body goes hand in hand with the cognitive development of the mind. The developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik has written in "The Philosophical Baby" (2009) that the child's brain is wildly different from the adult brain (in particular the prefrontal cortex). She even says that they are two different types of Homo Sapiens, the child and the adult. They physically perform different functions. Whether it is possible to create "intelligence" equivalent to human intelligence without a formation period is a big unknown.

Alison Gopnik emphasized the way children learn about both the physical world and the social world via a process of "counterfactuals" (what ifs): they understand how the (physical and psychological) worlds function, then they create hypothetical ones (imaginary worlds and imaginary friends), then they are ready to create real ones (act in the world to change it and act on people to change their minds). When we are children, we learn to act "intelligently" on both the world and on other people. Just like everything else with us, this function is not perfect. For example, one thing we learn to do is to lie: we lie in order to change the minds around us. A colleague once proudly told me: "Machines don't lie." That is one reason why i think that science is still so far away from creating intelligent machines. To lie is something you learn to do as a child, among many other things, among all the things that are our definition of "intelligence".

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