Re: rambling question on AI

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Mon Jan 07 2002 - 12:59:07 MST

From: "Colin Hales" <>
> My observation, put for comment, was that it's not A.I. that is the goal
> with most of the industry out there and that the computational/biological
> side is mostly what's happening and it's not in a quest for AI.

Your observation is, IMO, one of the most apropos and incisive to appear on
list, because it points to the fact that economics drives the computer
industry. There is money to be made by building intelligent robots that can
manage factories and run businesses and banks. Enormous amounts of money. But
as soon as a corporate entity proposes such a project, it slams against the
wall of frightened "relinquishment" alarmists that fears machines will take
over the world. As far back as the 1950s, alarmists were wringing their hands
about how automation would put everyone out of work. The absurd (and
simultaneously ubiquitous) solution to this dilemma was to put half the
population to work in the government, and the government steadfastly refuses
to be automated (it can make laws against that!), while using automation to
generate ever increasing piles of red tape and paperwork to keep everyone
This is a case of "The Glass Bead Game" with litigation and bureaucratic
politics replacing the bead game. But a new twist occurred when government
discovered that it needs computer power for defense. Since Japan (among
others) has vowed to build the first truly AI system, and a humanoid robot to
boot, it's a case of "we'd better build one before they do, or we'll be left
behind" and the new technology war will continue to center on IT and
intelligent expert systems. Robotics has replaced computers as the hottest new
field of science, and like PCs twenty years ago, soon everyone will want a
As you say, there's no industrial quest for human-competitive AI, because the
advent of such systems would throw the labor establishment into (unemployed)
turmoil. Whoever owns the first human-competitive general intelligence robot,
can soon own everything else. Who will it be, and how long before religionists
call him the Anti-Christ?

--- --- --- --- ---

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI,
non-sensory experience, SETI

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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