Artificial Intelligence Isn't Nearly 'as Smart as 3-Year Olds.'
Is AI about to take over? Or does it struggle to be as smart as a toddler?
Why should AI scare us? Let’s compare natural vs. artificial intelligence, using Edge’s 2015 big question: What to think about machines that think?
2. Alison Gopnik feels machines aren’t nearly “as smart as 3-year-olds.” While AI sometimes outwits Garry Kasparov, it needs millions of pictures (labeled by humans) to learn to recognize cats. Infants need a handful (amazing pattern detectors, + see what babies know, but scientists often ignore).
3. Biology has information-processing cells with hardware and software “vastly more complex than ... Intel's latest i7” chip, says Rolf Dobelli. Chips are faster, but the i7 does 4 things at a time; biology’s “processors” do thousands. Supercomputers ≈80k CPUs, brains ≈80 billion cells.
4. Lawrence Krauss estimates a computer would need ~10 terrawats of power (≈all humanity’s power plants) to match what the human brain does with just 10 watts (=million million times less power, = 40 doublings, ~ 120 years).
5. Intelligence, and many mind-related terms, are “suitcase” words (Marvin Minsky). They pack jumbled ideas.
6. Intelligence must process information. But many things that process information aren’t deemed intelligent. Harry Collins says sieves, trees, calculators, and cats, do what they do, and process information, the way rivers do, ~basically “mechanistically.”
7. Information processing isn’t limited to minds. Inanimate objects routinely process information. Information is “physical order,” says Cesar Hidalgo. So any interaction that alters physical order, processes information. Matter computes.
8. Until recently our tools were mostly like sieves or axes = “solidified chunks of order” — objects embodying and enacting simple fixed logic — crystallized information. But computers mean single objects can embody multiple complex, updatable logics.
9. The flexible logic of computers generally require detailed step-by-step instructions, or algorithms. (Note: Life needs what algorithms do; DNA is 2-billion-year-old software.)
10. “Little has changed algorithmically” in AI recently, notes Bart Kosko. What’s new is running old algorithms faster and cheaper. Which means IBM’s Watson, while impressive, is glorified Googling (Roger Schank). And AI can teach itself elite chess only because it’s easily algorithmized (it has fixed rules, unlike human life).
Those close to AI’s innards aren’t afraid. It’s up to us to use our natural intelligence well, to leverage AI's narrow powers intelligently.
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions
The pandemic reminds us that our higher education system, with all its flaws, remains a key part of our strategic reserve.
- America's higher education system is under great scrutiny as it adapts to a remote-learning world. These criticisms will only make higher ed more innovative.
- While there are flaws in the system and great challenges ahead, higher education has adapted quickly to allow students to continue learning. John Katzman, CEO of online learning organization Noodle Partners, believes this is cause for optimism not negativity.
- Universities are pillars of scientific research on the COVID-19 frontlines, they bring facts in times of uncertainty and fake news, and, in a bad economy, education is a personal floatation device.
Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.
One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.
A debate is raging inside and outside of churches.
- Over 1,200 pastors in California claim they're opening their churches this week against state orders.
- While church leaders demand independence from governmental oversight, 9,000 Catholic churches have received small business loans.
- A number of re-opened churches shut back down after members and clergy became infected with the novel coronavirus.
An MIT system uses wireless signals to measure in-home appliance usage to better understand health tendencies.
For many of us, our microwaves and dishwashers aren't the first thing that come to mind when trying to glean health information, beyond that we should (maybe) lay off the Hot Pockets and empty the dishes in a timely way.