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Letter: Are we the opposite of Artificial Intelligence?

‘What is intelligence? Is it knowledge? Reasoning? An aptitude for making judgment and taking an accurate course of action? A nebulous concept to be sure’
typewriter pexels-min-an-1448709 (From Pexels by Min An)

Lately, I’ve been playing around with a few of the artificial intelligence programs that we proles have been granted access to.

Like many of you out there, I was asking it trick questions and was amused when this electronic program expressed its displeasure at me for having the temerity of asking unfair requests.

It’s only early days and the potential of this electronic genie is intriguing. Can’t figure out something on your tax forms, and don’t want to be on hold with Revenue Canada – ask it. Want to know how to make a chocolate souffle for eight – ask it. 

Already, it’s obvious that a lot of perfunctory tasks are going to be assigned to this form of computation.

But not every query lies in a question-and-answer format. Some things we’d like to know, require multi-layered discussion. Especially subjects that involve candor and discretion. Privacy is always going to be valuable even though we are being conditioned to think otherwise.

Also, it’s rather clear that this edition of AI is not neutral. It’s manifestly apparent that its answers are heavily influenced by its source material. 

Oh goody! Another thing where trust needs to be called into question. How do you teach morals to a machine and who’s doing the teaching?

What is intelligence? Is it knowledge? Reasoning? An aptitude for making judgment and taking an accurate course of action? A nebulous concept to be sure.

A lot of what we conflate as intelligence is knowledge. And that knowledge often isn’t knowledge; it’s beliefs. And, often those beliefs are just the beliefs of others. This can be handy as we don’t have the time or ability to figure out everything. 

You tell me to stay away from that spooky-looking snake because it’s venomous – I’ll believe you. I don’t have the time to conduct a triple blind study just to determine “wow – you were right!”

It seems to me that the question is not so much “what is intelligence?”. I think it’s a much older question.

What does it mean to be human?

At first glance, I was thinking the future of humanity lies in our faculties of imagination and personality.

The challenge with this is that imagination and personality can be imitated. Thinking, too.

So, what then?

Like I know.

However, it’s been my observation that if you talk to a mathematical type long enough, out comes their inner explorer. If you talk to a sculptor, photographer or painter long enough, out comes their desire to explore. If you talk to a spiritual person long enough, out comes their tales of exploration.

Talk to just about anybody long enough and you will hear their experience of and plans for expedition. Maybe, it’s a part of the answer.

Douglas Miller