According to a recent news report in The Boston Globe,
there is a research effort beginning at MIT, aimed at coming up with some of the more human elements that have, up till now, been missing from AI projects (h/t Walter).
So here is my prediction. This project will fail. The project may come up with a lot that is interesting and perhaps valuable. It may be deemed to have been worth the cost. But I expect that it will fail to achieve the stated goal. In a way, this is an easy prediction. Thus far, AI research has a 100% perfect record of failure, when it comes to producing something that looks like human intelligence.
From the report:
At a new center based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers will seek to craft intelligence that includes not just knowledge but also an infant’s ability to intuit basic concepts of psychology or physics.
There we already see problems. In the usual use of the verb “to craft”, a craftsman crafts an artifact. We look for intelligence in the craftsman, not in the artifact. I seriously doubt that intelligence can be crafted. That’s not to suggest that intelligence is in any way mystical. It’s just that anything we can craft has a kind of rigidity to it, a rigidity that derives from the blueprint that the craftsman is following. Intelligence, by contrast, seems to require a great deal of flexibility and adaptability such as we find only in evolved organisms.
A little later in the report, we read:
For Winston, what makes human intelligence most stand apart from machines — and from the rest of the animal world — is our ability to tell and comprehend stories.
And that is my biggest concern. That quote expresses the view sometimes known as “human exceptionalism.” Humans are seen as exceptional among the biological organisms, and it is those exceptional attributes that make up intelligence.
This human exceptionalism is, in my opinion, a mistaken assumption of AI. For that matter, it is a mistaken assumption of philosophy of mind. If we really want something approaching human level intelligence, then what is missing from our AI systems is that underlying animal intelligence. The exceptional part — what distinguishes humans from other animals — can possibly be provided by computers. But that underlying animal intelligence will still be missing.
If we want human-like AI, then we have to look into animal level intelligence. That is what is missing.
That I hold this view, is why I am a heretic.