An article in The Atlantic which argues the achievement of artificial intelligence is impossible until we can teach computers how not to forget. Humans learn new skills while retaining old ones. Computers in contrast tend to forget easily.
To me one of the major factors (perhaps the most significant factor of all) which separates human intelligence from that of computers is that we humans are conscious beings who understand the reasons for our actions. Of course there are those who behave in ways which demonstrate crass stupidity but this does not, in my view invalidate my contention that we are different from machines in that we possess the ability to comprehend. Computers and robots can learn and their ability to do so is increasing. However they can not, unlike humans comprehend the reason for such learning. They are not self-aware.
Even if we can teach a computer not to forget will this lead to true artificial intelligence? In my admittedly unscientific view (my degree is in history and politics, not science) the answer is no for to have true intelligence one requires consciousness and the ability to comprehend/analyse one’s own actions.
Lethargy holds sway. People mop their brows, move reluctantly onwards trying in vain to escape the deadening blanket of heat. Like a giant hand held too close to the face the heat stops our breath, we gasp longing for the blessed rain.
The over heated brain yearns for quiet, a shady nook in which to find relief from the myriad thoughts and fears that pervade it, but the rain when it comes is warm and heavy providing little restbite from the giant’s all encompassing hand.
“How do you know that you are here” my friend Jeff asked as we sat in our favourite local Indian restaurant. “I don’t. I’ve experienced vivid dreams during which I’ve believed myself to be awake” I replied. My friend responded that there was no answer to that!
The above exchange got me thinking about what constitutes reality. If I believe an event to be truly happening that occurance takes on concrete form as for a moment, however brief I experience the firings of my dreaming brain to be the occurance of an event in real time. Consequently one may argue that dreams are real while we are caught up in our dreaming but what if we never wake? What about the person in a coma who spends months (sometimes years) dreaming? Are their dreams real? My tentative answer to that question is that one’s dreams are real while one is dreaming them.
One may object that once one awakes the dreamer knows the difference between the dream-like state and the experience of wakefulness but what of the person who believes themselves to have awoken but who has, in point of fact moved from one sequence of dreaming to another?
Ultimately we must all work on the basis that we are experiencing actual events rather than dreams. If We do not proceed on this basis then the world would fall apart. I, for example need to shower, have breakfast and leave for the office in the next hour or so, that is the reality of my current situation. Or is it? Perhaps I am dreaming and rather than it being Wednesday morning it is, in fact the weekend and I will awake in a few hours to find myself with Saturday and Sunday to enjoy away from the office or maybe not!