Podcast Episode

Gigaom AI Minute – May 20

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In this episode, Byron argues that today's AI doesn't have any intelligence.

Gigaom brings you our unique analysis and commentary on the present and future of AI.


I think a pretty good case can be made that the AI we have today doesn't actually have any intelligence. Some animals display something called a "fixed action pattern." This is something that the animal does and runs, kind of, to the end of its program even if it doesn't make sense.

For instance, there's a certain kind of goose that if an egg becomes dislocated from the nest, the goose has a technique for rolling that egg back to the nest using its beak. Even seeing an egg outside a nest will trigger that egg-retrieval behavior in the goose. Now, if the egg is removed from the goose during the performance of that egg rolling, the bird then continues doing it. Even pulling its head back as if it had an imaginary egg that it was moving back to the nest.

So, we can look at this and say the goose doesn't really know what it's doing. The goose has learned throughout eons to do this pattern when its confronted with a certain situation, but the goose in no way understands what it's doing because it does it even when there's no egg, or when there's a golf ball put there instead.

I think AI is a lot like this. I mean, all it does is run its program. And if this is the case, then we have to question whether it really is intelligent. The goose may look like it's doing something intelligent, but it really isn't intelligent at all.

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