Sunday, February 17, 2008
Following on from the matter of alien minds, I notice the energetic Ray Kurzweil is now promising us 'human-level artificial intelligence' by 2029 - why not 2030, I wonder? I seem to recall this is about 16 years sooner than his last forecast. He may be right, but as I mention in the book review, it seems unlikely because, after 50 years of AI research, we have made no progress in the direction of intelligent machines. People like Kurzweil are over-impressed by computing power. Thinking faster processor speeds and terabytes of memory will give us 'human equivalence' is like thinking Michelangelo's David is only a matter of having a big enough block of marble. Then there's the problem of the meaning of 'human equivalence'. What is it? An intelligent machine may be intelligent in ways we cannot begin to understand. There's no reason to assume that ours is the only possible kind of intelligence. In fact, on balance, I hope it's not.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:29 am