Nobody thinks that pouring more sand onto a pile of sand -- or even pouring more abacuses onto a pile of abacuses -- is the least bit likely eventually to prompt the pile to "wake up" and become intelligent, even though the pile grows incomparably more complex the larger it grows. I suspect the reason why some people think that computers, networks, or software might eventually "wake up" and become intelligent if they keep making them more and more complex is often just because they are already using computational, networked, and coding metaphors to think about intelligence in the first place.
I fear it is not so much that computers are liable to wake up any time soon, as that we are falling asleep to the distinctiveness of actually incarnated intelligence through a fashionable computational figuration of intelligence.
It should not be difficult to grasp that while such metaphors may capture some of the qualities of intelligence as it is incarnated in the material dispositions of brains, it is also obviously true that brains are finally much less like what we think of when we think of computers than they are like what we think of when we think of glands and hence that we probably have plenty of reasons to think metaphors proposing otherwise may be misleading us at least as often as they are enlightening us.
That advocates of artificial intelligence have been confidently predicting the arrival of artificial intelligence more or less since the inaugural moments the disciplines of cybernetics and computer science and robotics emerged on the scene with an incessance undiminished by the absolute relentlessness of their failures to be right on this and other key questions is just one of the ways in which these metaphors might be said to be misleading those who make recourse to them. But I think the more damaging and dangerous consequence of this inapt metaphorization of intelligence is that it is now leading so many of us in our everyday lives to attribute intelligence to bleakly unintelligent artifacts like automobiles and media devices with the consequence that we are rendered less capable of grasping and honoring what is so vitally different and indispensable to the dignity and destiny of actually intelligent beings in the world and owning up to our responsibilities to that intelligence in its lived differences.
Also posted at Amor Mundi.
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This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.
Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle. Each time, I am in awe. I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, and where roads are sometimes blocked by herds of elk.
In this month's Report on Business Magazine, a supplement that comes with The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, Stanford University's Mark Jacobson provides a best case scenario
According to The Hollywood Reporter, celebrity tech CEO Peter Thiel is upset that movies like The Matrix and Avatar make technological innovation seem "destructive and dysfunctional."
A team of researchers are asking the public to help them locate and count all the sources of CO2 coming from power plants on the planet.
Initial results from a selective breeding program at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany based in Cambridge in the UK, indicate the successful creation of a new super wheat.