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Let's talk AI

So, let's firstly define AI, or Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence, definition: the theory and development of computer systems capable of performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Artificial is unreal, man-made, synthetic. Made from a non natural fabric or substance to emulate or copy something real or natural. The dictionary actually defines artificial as: made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, especially as a copy of something natural.

Intelligence, well! Do we need to define this? OK, let's do it.

The definition of intelligence is: the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. But, it's subjective in that there are varying degrees of it and those that have more of it, aren't always those who are most capable of using it wisely, or at all. Sometimes, those who have less  actually achieve more. So, it's what we do with the intelligence that we have and not how much we possess that makes any difference to our lives, or the world we live in.

So, the phrase 'artificial intelligence' in reality encompasses a wide range of possibilities, but then is the word 'artificial' still relevant? If we remove 'artificial' from the phrase 'artificial intelligence', because it just means we manufactured it, then naturally enough we're just left with the word 'intelligence' and that, as we have already defined, represents 'knowledge' and 'skill'.

Next, let us take 'knowledge'

We can define this Knowledge as: facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Let us then take 'skill' and apply a definition to that as well: the ability to do something well; expertise. If we add all that we end up with - the intelligence to gain knowledge and skill and use it to acquire, through experience or education, the ability to do something with expertise. So, where, in any of this, does using or possessing 'artificial intelligence' offer up a threat to humankind?

The problem (as I see it) is it is very easy to take a 'Hollywood theatrical' approach and cast the AI as the evil baddie, that is after all what Hollywood is all about -- creating a climate of fear. However, when eminent public figures prominent in the science field talk about their own fears of artificial intelligence being the downfall of mankind - are they talking in Hollywood terms, i.e. theatrical doomsday scenarios, or are they talking about artificial intelligence doing all of our jobs so well, that we no longer have to.

If they are talking about the former, then they're talking a load of bollocks and are just looking for headlines to promote their own version of paranoia. If the latter, then how do they define that as a doomsday scenario. Where is the rationale for the creation of 'fear' in that plausible and highly desirable outcome.

There is a responsibility by the learned to define the specific fears they each have instead of placing the whole issue in a drawer in their desk, defining it as BEWARE! [Open at your peril: Artificial Intelligence inside] - and then issuing their own individual decree across their respective academic worlds saying that artificial intelligence is something to be frightened of, without specifying that it's not actually the AI that is the danger, but the fact they are a human tool. A tool which, like the AK47, in the wrong hands can wreak havoc and mayhem across the civilised world.

If the world was introduced to an alien race that arrived here and benevolently showed us better ways to manufacture, clean our environment, improve our humanity and advance our species beyond our present knowledge and understanding - would we fear them too?

So, if we recognise that commercial applications of artificial intelligence have been around for the last forty years, and it won't come as a surprise to any of you that there has yet to be an AI uprising in our midst. Not even the sighting of UFO's have been aligned with uprising of AI's -- anywhere. That then begs the simple question - why are we so afraid?

This just leaves us with the issue of artificial intelligence taking over our mundane lives and freeing us up to do lots of exciting things. If the 'intelligence' in AI represents a quantum increase in the ability to use knowledge and skill in more efficient and effective ways, it is then reasonable to also expect that they will do a much better job of it. If we end up cleverer, because they teach us better ways to do things, then this has to take us all forward to a better more positive phase of human evolution.

Now, we just have to eliminate all of the 'Bad Guys' out there that want to pervert our emerging AI's from designing the future that we want for ourselves and our children. Let's think on that for a bit (like a decade, or two) and not march to the beat of others' drums that would deny us because it threatens their own world vision of a future under their control.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2020
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