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Friday, January 14, 2022

An Age of AI-ism?

Looks to be a very interesting book, plan to read it.   Authors are interesting, notably I was at a meeting with Kissinger long ago in DC.   Never thought of him as a technical futurist.

The age of AI-ism

By Contributor Rich Heimann in BDTech Talks.    Whose book, Doing AI,  'explores what AI is, is not, what others want AI to become, what you need solutions to be, and how to approach problem-solving'.

 I recently read 'The Age of AI: And Our Human Future by Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher' The book describes itself as “an essential roadmap to our present and our future.” We certainly need more business-, government-, and philosophical-centric books on artificial intelligence rather than hype and fantasy. Despite high hopes, in terms of its promise as a roadmap, the book is wanting.

Some of the reviews on Amazon focused on the lack of examples of artificial intelligence and the fact that the few provided, like Halicin and AlphaZero, are banal and repeatedly filled up the pages. These reviews are correct in a narrow sense. However, the book is meant to be conceptual, so few examples are understandable. Considering that there are no actual examples of artificial intelligence, finding any is always an accomplishment.

Frivolity aside, the book is troubling because it promotes some doubtful philosophical explanations that I would like to discuss further. I know what you must be thinking. However, this review is necessary because the authors attempt to convince readers that AI puts human identity at risk.

The authors ask, “if AI thinks, or approximates thinking, who are we?” (p. 20). While this statement may satiate a spiritual need by the authors and provide them a purpose to save us, it is unfair under the vague auspices of “AI” to even talk about such an existential risk.

We could leave it at that, but the authors represent important spheres of society (e.g., Silicon Valley, government, and academia); therefore, the claim demands further inspection. As we see governments worldwide dedicating more resources and authorizing more power to newly created organizations and positions, we must ask ourselves if these spheres, organizations, and leaders reflect our shared goals and values. This is a consequential inquiry, and to prove it, the authors determine the same pursuit. They declare that societies across the globe need to reconcile technology with their values, structures, and social contracts (p. 21) and add that “while the number of individuals capable of creating AI is growing, the ranks of those contemplating this technology’s implications for humanity—social, legal, philosophical, spiritual, moral—remain dangerously thin.” (p. 26)  .... 

To answer the most basic question, “if AI thinks,…who are we?” the book begins by explaining where we are (Chapter One: Where We Are). But, “where we are” is a suspicious jumping-off point because it is not where “we” are, and it indeed fails to tell us where AI is. It also fails to tell us where AI was as “where we are” is inherently ahistorical. AI did not start, nor end, in 2017 with the victory of AlphaZero over Stockfish in a chess match. Moreover, AlphaZero beating Stockfish is not evidence, let alone proof, that machines think. Such an arbitrary story creates the illusion of inevitability or conclusiveness in a field historically with neither.   .... ' 

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