This topic is for general discussion of AI rather than particular AI technology, solutions or projects though they will of course be referred to.
So please keep all posts to qualitative discussion of AI such as appropriateness, risks etc rather than reports of performance or capabilities.
I’m kicking it of with a very interesting and insightful critique written around the life and ideas of one of its most well known innovators, who’s reservations became a powerful argument in when and where computers should and should not be used, particularly wrt AI.
Joseph Weizenbaum is famous for having invented the famed Eliza program, the first chatbot. This is the fascinating story of both his life and his insightful warnings about AI.
Here’s an extract. The article is long but I think essential reading for anyone wanting to grasp and discuss the usefulness and dangers of current AI.
First: there is a difference between man and machine. Second: there are certain tasks which computers ought not be made to do, independent of whether computers can be made to do them. The book’s subtitle – From Judgment to Calculation – offers a clue as to how these two statements fit together.
For Weizenbaum, judgment involves choices that are guided by values. These values are acquired through the course of our life experience and are necessarily qualitative: they cannot be captured in code. Calculation, by contrast, is quantitative. It uses a technical calculus to arrive at a decision. Computers are only capable of calculation, not judgment. This is because they are not human, which is to say, they do not have a human history – they were not born to mothers, they did not have a childhood, they do not inhabit human bodies or possess a human psyche with a human unconscious – and so do not have the basis from which to form values.
And that would be fine, if we confined computers to tasks that only required calculation. But thanks in large part to a successful ideological campaign waged by what he called the “artificial intelligentsia”, people increasingly saw humans and computers as interchangeable. As a result, computers had been given authority over matters in which they had no competence.
It would be a “monstrous obscenity”, Weizenbaum wrote, to let a computer perform the functions of a judge in a legal setting or a psychiatrist in a clinical one.) Seeing humans and computers as interchangeable also meant that humans had begun to conceive of themselves as computers, and so to act like them. They mechanised their rational faculties by abandoning judgment for calculation, mirroring the machine in whose reflection they saw themselves.