Intelligence is not Artificial

Why the Singularity is not Coming any Time Soon And Other Meditations on the Post-Human Condition and the Future of Intelligence

by piero scaruffi
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(These are excerpts from my book "Intelligence is not Artificial")

The Dangers of Machine Intelligence: Criminalizing Common Sense

There is something disturbing about the machines that intelligent humans are building with the specific mandate to overcome the desires of intelligent humans. Stupid machines in charge of making sure that human intelligence does not interfere with rules and regulations are becoming widespread in every aspect of life.

I'll take a simple example because i find it even more telling than the ones that control lives at higher and more sinister levels. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most technologically advanced regions in the world. In one of the most prestigious universities of the Bay Area we hold evening events. Because of a world-famous fog, the weather is chilly (if not cold) in the summer, especially in the evening. Nonetheless, the computers have been programmed to provide air conditioning throughout campus for as long as there are people at work, no matter how cold it is getting outside. People literally bring sweaters and even winter coats at these evening classes. Never mind the total waste of energy; the interesting point is that nobody knows anymore how to tell the machines to stop doing that. After months of trying different offices, we still are "not sure who else to contact about it" (quoting the head of a department in the School of Science) "apparently it is very difficult to reset the building's thermostat".

This is the real danger of having machines run the world. I don't think any of us would call a thermostat "intelligent" when it directs very cold air into a room during a very cold evening. In fact, we view it as utterly stupid. However, it is very difficult for the wildly more intelligent race that created it to control its behavior according to common sense. The reason is that this incredibly stupid machine was created to overcome the common sense with which more intelligent beings are equipped. Think about it and probably your computer-controlled car, some of your computer-controlled appliances and computer-controlled systems around you often prohibit you from performing actions that common sense and ordinary intelligence would demand, even when they work perfectly well, and, in fact, precisely because they work perfectly well.

I am afraid of the millions of machines that will populate human society with the specific goal of making sure that humans don't use common sense but simply follow the rules; i.e. with the specific goal of making us stupid.

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