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The Failure of Artificial Intelligence Essay

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The reality of AI, or artificial intelligence, is generally regarded to be a teleological fait accompli: sooner or later, they argue, computers will actually think. Of course, with the backing of many a member of MIT's Media Lab and corporate IT departments anywhere, this conclusion is unquestionable. I would here like to avoid downplaying the great strides made in recent years by computer technologists in promoting this evolutionary vision. But certain aspects of this technological revolution have, indeed, already been achieved. Parallels between current AI eschatology and the triumphs of one Clever Hans are striking both in terms of those creating the technology and that which expresses it.

The story of Clever Hans is too famous to bear repeating in detail here, but one should be reminded that Hans's ability to do simple addition and subtraction was facilitated by his handler unconsciously giving him signals about how many times he should move his hoof to indicate the correct answer to the questions put to him. This behavior was reinforced when the handler gave him food for correct answers. His equine intelligence is hardly surprising just on the basis of the facts alone: similar miracles have been developed to exploit the grand smarts of pigeons, chicks, pigs - the what-have-you of the animal world - by many a diligent entrepreneur. What was extraordinary about Hans's case was that the horse's handler himself had no idea he was giving the subtle signals that led to the miraculous results. If the answer was "five" Hans's handler would inadvertently nod the correct number of times and Hans would follow suit, clomping with his hoof five times, knowing full and well that this game of "horsey-see-horsey-do" would result in a tast...


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...is cowardice. AI provides the next great frontier. With careful modeling after the old one, learning from their new environments, with the downloading of current intelligences we will be able to gain some kind of perfection. Who else but us, now, should be the creators of the next world? After all, we've done such a good job with this one.

Works Cited

Busch-Snell, Alexandra. "Temporal Cyberprojection Through Ultimate End-User Modeling." Studies in Contemporary Biomechanics 44 (1998): 90-120.

"Learnings: a Cybervision." Proceedings in Cybernetics 4.1 (1999): 122-47.

Phillipi, Phillip. The Alpha Centaurians: a Comprehensive Study. New Punswick: Knopfwurst, 2000.

Smedley, Joshingua. "It's Alive, By Me." Cyberjournal/Diss. Erstwhile Institute of Technology, 2002.

Squeamous, Crampillion. "Wonks in Cubeville." Progressive Work Studies 17 (2001): 10-22.


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