Thursday, August 24, 2017

The discontinuity

It could be here. A resolution of the disconnect of the emerging against the status-quo, the pristine against the established, the young against the old, the uncultured against the culturally sophisticated, the academic against the the politically astute, the color blind against the racists, the healthy against the wealthy, the markets against the regulators, the agnostics against the atheists, the empathetic against the apathetic, the travelers against those who stay put, the globalists against the localizers, the peace lovers against the war mongers, the optimistic against the pessimistic, the thinkers against the feelers, the scientific against the religious, the capitalists against the communists, the future against the past, the good against the evil, the people against those who hold power, and the machine against the human. In the short history of the Homo sapiens, such reversals have been rare, if at all. And now, it is turning upside down in front of a singular generation as the technologists advance the ability to replicate the basic functions of the human brain. For thirty years, many have been on the prowl, but now they may be closing in on the algorithm that makes pattern finding practical.

Some caution may be apt. Pattern finding is certainly an important cognitive function and driven primarily by data. It has served humanity well from inception and the seven billion that inhabit the Earth today are well endowed with these capabilities due to selection. However, pattern finding would not have led humanity to advance art, language, science, and psyche. These are the features that made them human and mechanical replication of their basic brain functions is not “artificial intelligence,” by any stretch of the imagination. Intelligence is not artificial; the few cases on display from Newton to Einstein show characteristics that are not mechanistic. They were driven by dreams, visions and imagination, signs of a misbehaving brain seeking an escape route from boredom.

Till the technologists figure out a way for a computer to experience intellectual boredom, we are nowhere close to “artificial intelligence.”