Thursday, April 7, 2011

Artificial Intelligence and Humanity II

Technological advance
Nowadays chatterbots perform much better on the Turing test than they used to. Maybe not because they are getting better at imitating human chats; but because this skill has deteriorated in humans due to its restricted use. The ability to chat trough a computer can be replaced, partly, by intelligent computer programs.
Current text editors include the following functionalities: predictive algorithms that recommend the following word to be written. Spell check validation showing several alternatives to replace the misspelled word by the option chosen by the user. Automatic syntax validation, alerting the user by underlying the wrong sentence and pointing to the defective segment; it also allows the computer to correct the sentence by itself when desired by the user. Automatically replace words that are constantly repeated by a suggested synonym. These tools tend to make us dependent of the program utilities to be able to chat correctly.
Humans no longer need to have several skills because they can be performed by computers, many of these tasks can be done faster and with a higher degree of accuracy. These skills include the abilities to execute math calculations, translating a text from one language to another, the organization of large amounts of data, finding the quickest or shortest path to go from one place to another, etc. This allows us to develop other abilities which tend to be less repetitive and more creative.
Differences between humans and computers
Dorian Cole compares the "I am" statement pronounced by a human to the traditional first words of a computer program: "Hello World." A computer presents an output to human beings through an interface so that people know that it is working. The computer responds to external programs. One could hang a sign on a window saying, "Hello World," and we would see it as an imitation of the task performed by the computer program. But interpreting a sign that says, "I am," would be a difficult task.
Computers are able to change their main processing structure. They are also able to modify by themselves their software structure, which is the part that indicates what procedures they should follow. Since their creation they have been meliorating in an exponential way which makes them immensely more powerful than when they appeared. Human brains aren’t able to self-improve neither to modify themselves in such a radical way machines can. We can progress only in small increments. We can improve ourselves by learning, practice, hone our skills and acquire knowledge. Also new discoveries can increase our ability to make further discoveries. Anyway our brains today are much the same as they were ten thousand years ago.
The myth of the scientific method as the only approach to reality will become completely obsolete without loss to man's interaction with this world. The path to understanding has to be prepared by a lineal but also mysterious approach of hunches and intuitions in addition to direct perceptions and sensations.
The right hemisphere was presumed to be more “primitive” than the left because the latest deals with language, math, perform tasks in a logical and sequential order and is more specialized than the other. The right brain was also wrongly labeled as "primitive" because left brain abilities where considered more valuable. The right hemisphere process music, body language, works in a more intuitive way, and approaches things as a hole. Notice that no education system thought children to dance with the same determination they thought them mathematics. Education was mainly focused in training the left hemisphere; by better educating, valuating, rewarding and nurturing those abilities. They used to train students in order to develop skills similar to computers.
According to Brian Christian many people consider the history of AI a dehumanizing process; however it can also be considered as the opposite. We build these algorithms and computers imitating what we know about us, leveraging all the understanding of ourselves that we have. Subsequently we can see where they make a mistake. That error always has something new to teach us about who we are.
The inhuman gave us an appetite for the human; Computers and education helped us understand our need to change the priorities of the brain areas we focus in. We might have already seen the high-water mark of the left hemisphere bias; and started our return to a more balanced view of the brain and the mind.
This new level of understanding bring us real benefits including increased drive towards invention and creativity and increased positive emotions and enhancing our mental states.