FEBRUARY 17th 2008
Ray Kurzweil is only 10 years younger than me so we have probably been
thinking about Artificial Intelligence for the same length of time
assuming he started very young. I see that he has been careful in his
use of language. He says "machines will achieve human-level artificial
intelligence". Yes indeed - it will not be 'human equivalent'
intelligence, and certainly not intelligence as humans can exhibit it.
The key funtions of human intelligence are intentionality and
anticipation. These can develop in the mature human mind as draws on
its key resources: the subconscious mind and the conscious,
conversational properties of the brain in its wakeful state. The entire
emotional and reasoning sensibility that the collective system exhibits
cannot be duplicated by a non-biological system.
A human-level neural network can never be verifiably
constructed and given access to sufficient data to replace a human
intelligence, as to do so would take so long that any situation it
would be required to pronounce on would have passed. On the other hand
a non-biological network and processing system could perform and react
far quicker and more reliably that a human precisely because of its
limitations. Even if, on a philosophical level, it is claimed that all
anticipation is in fact reaction, and that computers react faster and
more reliably, a human being or a collection of humans whose roles and
interoperational capabilities are the result of billions of years of
biological evolution are using intelligence of a different order.
One role that artificial intelligence will no doubt be called upon will
be to justify political and economic decisions when there is no logical
way humans can discriminate between 2 or more choices. At the moment,
if we use democratic mechanisms, we lobby for support and votes. It
might be useful if in additon to that we could sometimes submit
proposed solutions to systems that have no political history as part of
the exposition that is put before the democratic process. But in the
end, humans will decide on human destiny.
When it comes to embedding nanotechnology in human brains to improve
intelligence I am not sure Mr Kurzweil has accurately assessed human
needs, and therefore may not be anticipating the required solution. I
think there will be much better ways to improve human health.
One thing is certain, the writer of
the story below has once again got the headline completely and utterly
wrong, just as the BBC did last week on the subject of the
genetic determination of obesity. They just never, never learn.
Machines can just about 'match' a man at
chess, but that is not a question of intelligence at all in the sense I
am talking about. A chess-playing computer uses human programmed
intelligence and machine processing and memory, and even then it is
pushed. How much more help does it need?
Kurtzweil is an open minded chap. You can look him up at http://www.kurzweiltech.com/raycv.html
Machines 'to match man by 2029'
| By Helen Briggs
Science reporter, BBC News, Boston
Machines will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029,
a leading US inventor has predicted.
Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots
implanted in people's brains to make them more intelligent, said Ray
The engineer believes machines and humans will
eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost
intelligence and health.
"It's really part of our civilisation," Mr Kurzweil explained.
"But that's not going to be an alien invasion of intelligent
machines to displace us."
Machines were already doing hundreds of things humans used to do, at
human levels of intelligence or better, in many different areas, he
Man versus machine
"I've made the case that we will have both the hardware and the
software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad
suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence
by 2029," he said.
| We'll have intelligent nanobots
go into our brains... to make us smarter
"We're already a human machine civilisation; we use our technology
expand our physical and mental horizons and this will be a further
extension of that."
Humans and machines would eventually merge, by means of
devices embedded in people's bodies to keep them healthy and improve
their intelligence, predicted Mr Kurzweil.
"We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains
through the capillaries and interact directly with our biological
neurons," he told BBC News.
CHALLENGES FACING HUMANITY
Make solar energy affordable
Provide energy from fusion
Develop carbon sequestration
Manage the nitrogen cycle
Provide access to clean water
Reverse engineer the brain
Prevent nuclear terror
Enhance virtual reality
Improve urban infrastructure
Advance health informatics
Engineer better medicines
Advance personalised learning
Explore natural frontiers
The nanobots, he said, would "make us smarter, remember things
and automatically go into full emergent virtual reality environments
through the nervous system".
Mr Kurzweil is one of 18 influential thinkers chosen to
identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st
century by the US National Academy of Engineering.
The experts include Google founder Larry Page and genome pioneer Dr
The 14 challenges were announced at the annual meeting of the
Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, which concludes