Artificial Intelligence

automation, bots, machine learning, neural networks

Artificial intelligence is one of our most overdetermined topics. There are specific definitions in certain contexts, but AI has been such an important trope in science fiction and cultural mythology that even the most dry definition is surrounded by a haze of robot revolutions and killer spaceships.

The thing is that in a practical sense, artificial intelligence is here already. It's actually a normal, everyday thing. The problem is that at first, we didn't see "intelligence" since it looked more like a silly toy or a bumbling robot. Then it got better, and it'll looked like something clever-yet-ordinary like a chess player, or a search engine, or an autonomous car. This is more or less where we are now -- increasingly distributed systems able to collate ever larger arrays of data into ever more meaningful results. Very handy! Debatable at best how "intelligent" these systems are. They're certainly not self-aware (well, let's hope it's not), and we certainly haven't built an artificial human mind. But these tools do perform unarguably meaningful, relevant, and powerful tasks.

As these systems get more complex, they probably won't look like anything at all, since they'll will have been thoroughly woven into the fabric of our lives. If we're keep looking for something human-like to call "intelligent," we'll probably be disappointed. Not because there won't be human-like interfaces to these systems -- we're already getting close to that. And not because it won't match and surpass us in anything we can ask it to do -- again, we're already getting there. But because any underlying intelligence probably won't be conscious in the way we expect. It will be... different.

In the meantime, we have much to discuss.

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