We live in fiction. Our brain’s primary function is to simplify the world for us. In doing so, anthropomorphism, or assigning human traits to things, is an innate special trick. An overextension, if you will. We do it, in most part, to simplify complex things and to cope with solitude. And we do it all the time. To animals, cars, natural phenomena, geological structures and even brands. No wonder authors have exploited the thing tremendously (Pinocchio, Wall-E). Now, it seems, is the time of computers, or more precisely, computer clouds.
Anthropomorphism is irrational as hell. An innate, easily exploitable trait of the human mind. So, is the recent artificial intelligence products frenzy a real thing or are we being played out?
Run for your lives (and jobs)! AI will soon decimate humanity! After all, Google’s AlphaGo (modern-day Mechanical Turk) if you ask me) just crushed the top “Go” player! Next is a “generic” engine that will take over the world! Rarely a day goes by without a frigging AI “breakthrough,” funding round, acquisition or CEO announcement. But don’t worry, Elon Musk will save us from AI apocalypse! What a circus.
Nope, we’re not recycling 40-year old technology (AlphaGo relies on Monte Carlo), we’re reverse-engineering what took nature 4 billion years. Just like that. Shame on us! We don’t even understand what understanding is (well, maybe Daniel Dennett) does. And yet, boast proudly our “learning” and “AI-powered” algorithms and systems.
It is hard to convey the infinitesimal extent of what we have achieved in (human-level) AI. Hence the effectiveness of plain-old FUD. Perhaps landing on the moon versus visiting every planet in our galaxy (coincidentally as many as there are neurons in our brains)? We are on the brink of conquering the Milky Way with Saturn V)! Someone please produce the AI-equivalent of the Hubble!
FUD meets fear of missing out
No, tech CEOs, we don’t believe artificial intelligence products have magically spawned across all your offerings. No, we don’t believe you are in the forefront of the machine learning movement. Stop embarrassing yourselves. We know you’re under pressure. Your PR agency is in your ear. But you’re not supposed to fall victim of the latest hype. You’re supposed to lead!
AI startups are spawning like fruit flies, and clueless venture capitalists are chasing after them to the tone of $5B a year! Rocket AI, anyone? Simply add “AI” to the title of your pitch deck, and sprinkle it here and there, no matter what your product does.
But why spoil the party? This is hustler culture, isn’t it? How about preserving the real progress? Have we learned nothing from the dot-com bubble? Or is it too far back for our short-sighted collective consciousness? Isn’t Trump the real topic?
How to tell if we’re close to real AI? For once, be on the lookout for when machines can anthropomorphize.
In the meantime, please, please stop the AI bullsh*t!