Are AI's really smart? Or is it all a figment of our imagination?

in Project HOPE8 months ago

Image by sujin soman from Pixabay

Before you start throwing tomatoes at me, let me explain more about the theme of this publication and then you can begin throwing tomatoes. I think the best way to get my point across is through a short story (who doesn't like stories?)

As the poet León Felipe said:

the distance between man and reality is a story.

Initially, before the written word was spread, concepts and descriptions about the reality around us were made through stories; concepts such as courage and astuteness were explained through the legendary journeys of Ulysses and other heroes of the era.

Let's not waste any more time on this prelude and let’s start with the story:

When I opened my eyes I realized that I was in a completely unknown place. A small room that was totally airtight and as clean as I had ever seen in my life. I didn't remember when or how I got here, but I think that once again my stupidity and greed had gotten me into trouble.

I got up from the shelf that served as my bed and immediately it disappeared, being absorbed by the wall. Another shelf, on the opposite side of the room, appeared along with something that looked like my breakfast (or maybe lunch?) I really didn't know the time nor the day. Everything in the room was monotonous and monochromatic, and minimalist at the same time, a small toilet and sink were embedded in one of the corners of the room.

I was just beginning to take a bite of the insipid food that had appeared when suddenly an alarm sounded making my feed disappear through the wall and the fattest book I had ever seen took its place.

Despite my discontent, I decided to take a look at the huge book, thinking that it might distract me while I anxiously awaited some communication from my captors. However, the book only contained strange symbols that were totally incomprehensible to me. A larger one took up 90% of the page and a smaller one was on the side of a corner of the page.

"Maybe I had been abducted by aliens and they wanted me to communicate with them," I thought.

Without realizing it before, a large rectangular screen lit up above the small makeshift table, showing another strange symbol to me. After what seemed like 10 seconds, it started flashing red and a deafening sound echoed across the room. It was clear that I had done something wrong.

Immediately, a page similar to the ones in the book I was holding in my arms appeared on the screen, highlighting the small symbol and then indicating that I should place the page in front of the screen.

The screen darkened, and again an alarm tone, lower, sounded, and a new symbol appeared on the screen. It was obvious what I had to do.

At first, I had difficulty in finding the symbols, and I constantly felt the punishment upon my tortured ears. I ended up tearing the pages from the book and scattering them on the table and floor to make the searches faster.

It was exhausting to be constantly looking for the strange symbols in that sea of pages, yet I received rewards in the form of more appetizing meals every time I improved my response time.

So time passed; there were periods of rest which allowed me to identify the days that were passing. When I was on the verge of going crazy, after what seemed like perhaps a little more than 15 days from my perspective, a new tone, completely different from the others, sounded and a new hatch opened.

"What now?" I asked myself, exhausted from my monotonous existence.

Applause and congratulations soon followed. The experiment was finally over.

Considering the above story, let's assume the following. To an outside observer, the room represented a device that could respond in a language totally unknown to the user who lived inside, giving the sensation that he really knew that language. The device (the room and its inhabitant) gave the impression of being "intelligent" enough to respond in that language and have a conversation.

In reality this experiment, called the Chinese box, was proposed by Professor John Searle and spread by the mathematical physicist Roger Penrose as an objection to the alleged artificial "intelligence" of machines.

The fact that the device in particular "understands" the language, makes it intelligent? I don't think so.

Are we really talking about "understanding" here? Can consciousness be replicated? Does the computer or machine really understand what it does? Is it aware of its existence?

Do the mechanisms, algorithms, and programs of artificial intelligence really work the same way as the room? Simulating a "false" intelligence?

Intelligence is defined as the faculty of the mind that allows us to learn, understand, reason, make decisions and form a certain idea of reality.

Do we believe then that machines will dominate the world? Could a machine create artworks like Mozart's, Beethoven's or Shakespeare's? Feel envy, love, courage, or even think? Well, dear reader, unfortunately, I don't think so either.

Can a self-conscious robot end its own existence? (I didn't mean own life, because it's really alive?)

The human being always tends to humanize things, to give them a human connotation. I don't know if I make myself understood. We create for ourselves the illusion of a robot capable of having feelings (anger, joy, courage) and perhaps reasoning (intellect).

As Dr Michio Kaku said, a simple cockroach has a better chance of survival than a robot in a forest.

I agree that machine learning systems, artificial intelligence systems, or call them whatever you want, are necessary to perform tasks that for a human would be tedious, tiresome or repetitive and that, undoubtedly, for entrepreneurs are excellent acquisitions to minimize costs, automate processes and eliminate the human part of their companies.

I think that in the future these tools will be fundamental as a support for the evolution of humanity, perhaps to help us reach the final frontier (*space travel). But not to exterminate us or anything like that. For that we don't need any AI, our actions will be enough to finish with ourselves.

What do you think, dear readers? Are you advocates of AI?

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