Unlocking Artificial Intelligence


Research into A.I. has to some degree surpassed human calculating capacity. Problem solving with speed and accuracy has enabled computing power sufficient for computers to beat world champions at Chess and Go, and can even compete with professionals at games like Poker. However clever and able robots with state of the art artificial intelligence may get, their human creator’s are going to struggle to move them into areas which make humans humane. They may in the future begin to perceive the world around them as we do, even though this is a vast problem to solve. And solving it could create a nightmare scenario.


Another great problem is human motility. Compare a ballet dancer or a gymnast to a robot and they are seemingly far apart in ability. However much greater are those areas of human behaviour which are most important to us: love, consciousness, self awareness, empathy, value and belief systems, the aesthetic appreciation of beauty and so on. About some of these science is still in the dark ages of understanding.

Just take one of the above: holding a value or belief. These can be so strong that a person may be prepared to sacrifice their life. A human being is designed to look after itself, and yet it is capable of self sacrifice, giving up its own self interest entirely. Humans will voluntarily get together to risk their lives for others, doctors, police, mountain rescue teams, firefighters, RNLI, the list could go on and on. An A.I. could be programmed to do such things, but placing a value system in a robot could lead to a million pound artificial human committing suicide because it had failed to do some small task properly; like pouring a teaspoonful of sugar into a cup and stirring an invalid patient’s tea. This is its reason to exist, to keep the patient happy, and it has failed. Given a simple conscience this machine could breakdown. If it could feel any depth of shame it might seek to end its existence. A value system is extremely difficult to moderate. How much value do we place on a thing or an objective or an idea. A.I. is admittedly a marvel of invention. A project which has consumed vast amounts of finance, ingenuity and computing power to make them operate as they do; but they are still nothing close to even mimicking humanity. I am not suggesting this is a primary aim, but it gets close to it. Its imaginary fulfilment is conjured up in the film industry in multiple forms, some good, some bad, so positively evil. Who knows what may happen. A competition is certainly on to beat humans in areas where A.I. has the potential to do so.

The complexity involved in creating an artificial human is immense. And yet what about considering the model upon which AI is being developed? My point is this, if the most intelligent of the most intelligent species on earth has over the last seventy years got this far, and is still on the lower slopes of Everest in replicating something even remotely close to fully human, then what kind of intelligence produced ordinary examples of this phenomena like you and I?

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