Life and Artificial Intelligence

One of the great challenges facing humankind is the increasing use of digital representations of reality. The power to capture, store and manipulate data has opened up far reaching possibilities. In the excitement of adopting new developments of this technology it is easy to miss its fundamental limitation. Essentially it is a dead medium that has no intrinsic life principle. Have you noticed when you are with someone and are used to feeling their presence and they decide to check emails on the computer? It feels like somebody died.

There is a dead numb presence in the house where before it felt alive.Recently I shared a dinner with a couple of friends who are in the artificial intelligence world and I asked them how the artificial intelligence community views the notion of presence. Is it possible for an artificial intelligence to understand and feel presence? There was no ready answer to my question. Personally I think artificial intelligence is an unfortunate term as it reduces intelligence to contrivance and manipulation and to my mind intelligence implies much more. In the early 90’s I met with some oxford based scientists who were busy creating an artificial neurone.

They found that digital structuring could only take them so far and that they needed to introduce an analogue interface. If you think about it there is no other way to emulate life but to introduce a fuzzy interface. However this does not change the fundamental flaw in the system. It only serves to obscure and make the result seem alive.

Author: Simon Davison