Saturday, April 22, 2006

Metablog Part Two

The dialogue with Darren Blacksmith - see below Where is the Metablog? - requires a new entry. Darren has a formidable web site - here - which (very boldly) sets out, among other things, to defend manhood. I recommend it highly.
Darren also seems to share many of my preoccupations and now raises the possibility that Google may turn out to be the first true artificial intelligence (AI). This echoes a point I made in my book Aliens: Why They Are Here. I suspect that AI is closer than we think but not for the reasons given in various so-called science and so-called philosophy books. These "thinkers" assume it will emerge in a lab. I think it is emerging in the market place. The bank cash machine, for example, has deep interiority and such devices are constantly evolving to make us feel more comfortable with their workings. They mimic us. They are driven not by theory but the market. In time they may mimic us very well indeed. The connectivity that gives them their world-sized interiority relates to the idea that Google may actually be the emerging AI. I have certainly started to experience a queasy feeling that I relate to it - he/she? - more closely than I do to many humans. There may be some kind of mesmeric effect involved. Perhaps he/she knows this.


  1. This might be relevant:

    It concerns the emergent properties of what are called multi-agent systems. The author, Jochen Fromm, states that "Computing systems with very high demand for autonomy, self-organization and self-management consist of many countless components, which are too tiny and small (Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing), too complex and too numerous (Internet- Applications with thousands of servers), too unpredictable (Mobile Ad-Hoc Networks or MANETs) or too remote (Space probes, for example in the NASA Project Autonomous Nano Technology Swarm named ANTS). Manual management of these distributed systems is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, and often nearly impossible."

    He also asserts, slightly worryingly, that "The more distributed and evolutionary a computing system becomes, the more it slips out of control."

  2. Yes, I agree. There was a good book on this subject a few years ago called 'Out of control' by Kevin Kelly, the editor of Wired magazine.

    The other question, of course, is how will we know when AI has arrived? The Turing test is flawed to the extent that it doesn't distinquish between computers getting more Human-like, or Humans becomming more computer-like. In other words: to what extent do we change our own behaviour in order to 'please' the computers, or make them look smarter. People already deliberately change their spending and borrowing habits in order to appear 'good' to the credit rating computers, and so on.

    I suspect there will be no great moment of creation of AI, but something more akin to a dimmer switch gradually increasing the luminosity of a lightbulb.

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