Artificial intelligence may prove more dangerous as it advances, but it will never generate actual intelligence so long as the basic assumptions of the field remain unchanged. In The AI Delusion, Gary Smith reveals why, and assesses the technology’s problems from an economist’s perspective.
AI’s basic problem concerns how computers process symbols, from the series of English letters one types on a keyboard to, more fundamentally, the strings of 0’s and 1’s into which those letters are encoded. The meanings of these symbols—indeed, even the fact that they are symbols—is not something the computer knows. A computer no more understands what it processes than a slide rule comprehends the numbers and lines written on its surface. It’s the user of a slide rule who does the calculations, not the instrument itself. Similarly, it’s the designers and users of a computer who understand the symbols it processes. The intelligence is in them, not in the machine.
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