« All Episodes: Gigaom AI Minute – June 6

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We are intelligent and we have machines that have some amount of artificial intelligence, and we apply that same word to it and us. In fact, we often talk about a computer "thinking" something. A computer "thinks" there's been a security breach and it does something. We have neural nets as a technique in artificial intelligence that are said to be modeled after how the human brain operates. In fact, we think of the computer in anything, say your car, as being the brain of the car. And so we use a lot of the equivalent terms to describe our brains and computers.

But I don't believe there's a single aspect of what a computer does that really corresponds to what the brain does. To me, they seem to have absolutely no overlap. It's just like, you can cook popcorn in the microwave and you can cook it on a stovetop, but microwaves and stovetops are very different things. So I think that this use of all of these terms that are related to intelligence comes about for two reasons, first, because they're convenient in that they are rough corollaries to what the thing does. But, second, I think it's fundamentally all just PR and marketing.

What do you think? Why are we inclined to prescribe human characteristics to Robots and AI?

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Tyler Hodge

Because as humans, anthropomorphizing the computer makes it easier for us to understand. Like with his stovetop and microwave analogy, yes, the method to solving the problem of creating popcorn is very different, yet the desired outcome is the same. As robots and AI become more and more sophisticated it will become even harder to make that distinction. Maybe because of that developers intense familiarity with how these systems work some of the “magic” is gone for him. To the everyday observer AI seems a whole lot like…. I.

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