I hear so many silly things in reference to artificial intelligence. I work in digital learning and a day doesn’t go by without reading nonsense about the brain and memory. They tell us – in the media and then repeated on social media – that computers are going to “think,” “imagine,” and “create.” They tell us that they are going to make humanity obsolete and that we are going to join the other extinct species like the Neanderthals. What if, instead of foretelling tomorrow’s apocalypse, we tried to learn a little
The superiority of AI: the scam of the century
Artificial intelligence is just an empty shell, right? Denis Fages, President of VideoTelling, warns us to not give this technology virtues that it doesn’t have - and never will.
Big DataBot is watching you
1984 is knocking at our door. This will soon be our future… if we let GAFA condition our existence by “predicting our desires in order to make our lives easier.” With all good intentions, it’s bullshit. It’s just a marketing scheme to sell leads to brands by analysing your data. They put us in boxes in order to manage compartmental marketing scenarios.
Those who “don’t know” are enchanted by the strength of computers. In 1968, a super calculator beat the majority of humans in calculations. Fifty years later, in 2018, while autonomous cars drive on the land and the drones fly in our skies, full of cameras and AI, we are still in the same position. Computers may calculate much faster than humans, but they aren’t at all intelligent.
What is intelligence?
Pick up a dictionary and you will see that there are close to a dozen definitions about intelligence. Here are a couple: “ability to comprehend, to not misinterpret the meaning of words, the nature of things and the significance of events”; “voluntary and reflective activity of men practised in a normal manner, as seen from a point of knowledge and against instinct”; “skill and ability, which is, above all, applied to the choice of reason used to obtain a result”; “correspondence, communication between people who understand each other; complicity.” In the definitions, the dictionary suggests creative intelligence, intelligence from the heart, emotional intelligence, practical intelligence…
So, when we talk about artificial intelligence, what do we mean? The Larousse encyclopaedia says that we design AI by “theories and techniques implemented in order to create machines capable of simulating intelligence.” As Deeper Blue beat Garry Kasparov in chess, in May 1997, we forgot one thing. Gary was the only one actually playing. Deeper Blue was calculating. The computer predetermined what he would do. And that’s it. We can simulate learning and intelligence, in the way that we programmed the machine to store data and make decisions with it, but it is only a simulation.
What we do... but in a one thousandth of a second
With a closer look, artificial intelligence is actually stupid. Someone who thinks that a computer can think faster or better is depreciating themselves as a being. I would also add that they don’t know much about themselves. A lot of people identify with their body – they mistake their soul as their brain and think of themselves as machines.
Let’s take the time to really analyse our potential. When we think about complex subjects, like creating a marketing strategy, this is what we do: we analyse dozens of pieces of data; we evaluate them, compare them, and choose them according to their importance; we use thousands of understandings accumulated over the course of our lives, as well as education; we take into account all of our feelings; we evaluate the consequences for each person involved in the short term or long term; we make a prediction of all the possible scenarios, according to their probability; we eliminate all the bad solutions and finally we choose what we think is the best for us, our family, our group, our company, and even our country, humanity, and the planet… We also do this in a microsecond, thousands of times per day, every single time that we make a decision.
Do androids dream of electric sheep?
That’s the original title of Philip K. Dick’s novel, that became the movie Blade Runner. And it is a big question. A human being can sing in the rain. They can, despite good sense and logic, paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. They can formulate a philosophy in order to understand life. They are creative during the entire day and a good part of the night. Has someone asked Sophia – the robot citizen of Saudi Arabia – what she thought about Picasso’s paintings or Daft Punk’s sound? The best algorithms in the world could never think as fast and as well as a person of sound mind. And it wouldn’t be able to create anything.
Of course, we can simulate creation. We can programme it. We can rearrange creations and additions according to a random sequence that is skilfully programmed… by its programmer. This creation won’t have anything to do with the motives, intentions, motivations and emotions of a human being, artist or not.
Please understand that artificial intelligence is based on cognitive science. Yet they do have ambition (it doesn’t mean that they achieve it) to model perception, intelligence, reasoning, emotions, and even consciousness. I think about Buddhists who spend their entire lives meditating in order to achieve a higher level of consciousness. I ask myself what an algorithm that aspires to reach a superior state of being would look like.
“Science without conscience...”
I am directly approaching this notion of spiritual consciousness, because one risk with AI is the small minority of materialistic scientists who invoke their small ideas on the nature of man. We will end up believing that we are nothing more than a group of synaptic connections, surrounded by a skeleton and some muscles… Basically that we are nothing more than a machine… And therefore, a very strong machine could beat us!
“Science without conscience ruins the soul,” Rabelais warned us. Propaganda started and is going to intensify: “machines will think better than humans because they don’t have emotions. They make less mistakes. A machine will always make better choices. A machine is better at…” Stop! The real danger that we need to watch out for, and the real challenge of AI and robotics is to avoid scenarios like in The Matrix or Terminator. Of course, we can talk about ethics and the laws of robotics…
However, even deeper than that, there is a rebellion to manage. And it’s not about agreeing with the fact that a machine could become more powerful than man. It’s not about preventing the manufacturing of powerful machines, but about recognising the power that each human has. Because “machines are more powerful than humans” could never become true if a handful of people were able to convince everyone else that they aren’t machines, nor pieces of meat living the rat race.
AI is a trick. All good programmers know it. Intelligence is something associated with life. Something that animates life. Humans can try to make a rough copy, but machines will never take over its master.
The battle of a century
“Big Data Bot versus Buddha,” is the match between the coming of age of machines and a spiritual renaissance for humanity. In other words, one day we might have a philosophy that reconciles science and spirituality. Big Data Bot will win against humans if we let the ones who have already succumbed lie to us about our nature, potential, and past. Personally, I have no intention in letting my actions be dictated by a machine. It’s in labouring hard and strong today that humans are conscious and spiritual beings, and that a machine is nothing more than an inert machine that has no control over our fate.
The prettiest robot in the world that contains the most perfected AI is nothing more than a bit of metal without a soul. It was made to be a perfect tool that allows me to use the intelligence of my own body better. And only if it helps me develop my own skills. It’s incidentally a good thing to be currently developing the cobot (collaborative robot that aims at producing robots to assist humans).
For the love of God, let’s stop believing in all the rubbish about the strength of AI. You are intelligent and have a conscience. You are a creative spirit, deep down. And your potential as a spiritual animal is a thousand times bigger than those bloody machines.