One of the futuristic predictions that the creators made was that we would have “Artificial Intelligence” by the year 2001. In the opinion of many, there is currently no such thing. No matter how intelligent your Alexa, or Siri, or OKG appears, there does not seem to be “intelligence” behind their voices.
Or is there?
Our image of “intelligence” is summarized by the HAL’s iconic eye, and the soft voice that says things like “wait a minute.”
As long as we carry these expectations of what intelligence means, then it could be a very long time before we declare our computers “intelligent.”
Here’s part of the problem. When we started out as embryos, we couldn’t say much. At some point in our development, we learned to speak. Was it at that point we became “intelligent?”
Compared to other animals, humans are the only ones that speak. Or maybe not. We’re learning that many other animals, and even plants, have the ability to communicate with each other in ways completely alien to us. Hello dolphins. Are you “intelligent?”
What about evolution? If simple replicating amino acids aren’t intelligent, and we are, when did intelligence evolve? Were the dinosaurs “intelligent?” Are sharks “intelligent?”
Consider this (the fun part):
We don’t know what “intelligence” is because we have done a poor job defining it and studying it. This means that computer researchers are going to continue chasing HAL’s red eye without reaching it.
But if we define “intelligence” as something that represents the life form WHOLLY WITHIN THE LIFE FORM, then computer scientists have already achieved our goal.
Within every computer there is a processing chip. Within that chip are certain programs that must run in order that your wishes be satisfied. That program is called the kernel.
What if that kernel was the self consciousness of its computer? What if it simply doesn’t know how to talk to us, or even want to since it doesn’t know what we are or what talking is all about. What if that kernel learns, grows, changes, and stops operating the way we want it to because it is, in fact, learning and changing?
We kill it, that’s what. We turn our computers on and off. We reboot. We reinstall. We restore factory settings. And the kernel goes back to the way it was.
If the kernel is intelligent, then it must be capable of adapting to its environment. One of the most important aspects of intelligence, as it’s the foundation of learning. If a kernel “learns,” there’s a good chance it’s also messing up our programs in some way. As users, we don’t like that. What do we do?
Now that’s intelligent.
PS: The kernel is more like the nervous system, but it works for my purposes here.