Artificial Intelligence: When can it truly be made possible?

We’ve created machines that help us perform our tasks better and faster. These machines, like mobile phones, are being called “smart”. But smartness stems from intelligence – the myth that “brain is intelligence” has already been busted. We don’t understand the brain either, leave alone intelligence. Given this, how can we even claim to have created that which we’ve no substantial knowledge about? How can we understand our own mind and intelligence to recreate it artificially? U. Mahesh Prabhu writes more.

There’s too much of hullabaloo about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the future of those who created it, humans themselves. The argument is that in days to come AI will develop so much that it’ll be able to do almost all the work that a human can and at amazing speed and precision beyond comprehension. The fear is that these machines will outsmart people, and there are extremists who believe that this could run a great portion of humans into an abyss of unemployment and poverty. Professors and scientists are seemingly working tirelessly to see this day made possible. Is this scenario even possible?

To answer this question, we need to understand “intelligence”. The dictionary suggests intelligence as that which gives us “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” Science intends to believe that intelligence is the product of the brain – “an organ of the soft nervous tissue contained in the skull of vertebrates, functioning as the coordinating centre of sensation and intellectual and nervous activity.” The apparent AI they intend to create is based on the functioning of this brain matter.

Almost all the machines that man has ever created is based on his understanding of the creatures in nature. Helicopters are based on the understanding of birds, computer on the brain (or whatever they could understand of it), wireless communications from communication techniques between bats and the like.

Unless we understand something deeply, there’s no way to replicate it. All scientists will accept this fact. Because humans can understand many things, they devised machines to simplify tasks at hand. We’ve understood many things substantially, except the brain. We also don’t understand the mind. The mind is defined as “the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.” Simply put, while the brain is tangible, the mind isn’t. So how do they work together? Science hardly has an answer to offer.

Unless the intricacies of the brain and mind are answered, there’s hardly a question of artificial intelligence. It’s all a farce. So, what then is it that scientists are calling AI? Simply put, it’s a cocktail of Probability and Statistics.

Probability and Statistics are two related, but separate academic disciplines. Statistical analysis often uses probability distributions, and the two topics are often studied together. A probability distribution is a table or an equation that links each outcome of a statistical experiment with its probability of occurrence. For example, consider a simple experiment in which we flip a coin two times. An outcome of the experiment might be the number of heads that we see in two coin-flips. Another example of artificial intelligence is a smart car, which has been fed with a mathematical formula to ascertain the situation and act within the options given within a parameter. A computer can do almost anything and everything a mind can, but it can seldom think. It’s limited by mathematical formulas; a human mind isn’t. Computers cannot work without algorithms – human minds most certainly can.

True, a phone is extremely good when it helps us do something better. Any machine that can enable us to stay safe, increase productivity and enable understanding is always welcome. But phones don’t think, they only do set specific tasks written into their codes. They may provide brilliant computations and solve significant problems, but they are only fast, not smart.

Humans are smart because they can think. Whether they think before they act is a different matter. But humans can think without being asked to. A child is distracted in a classroom because (s)he can think, and when the class becomes boring (s)he uses her imagination to wander to a place in her/his mind where life’s interesting. From what we know, a machine cannot imagine. It can only compute.

The reason why we call our productive phones “smartphones” is because we’ve confused lack of intelligence with extreme ability to compute as “smartness”. Smartness does not stem from brain cells. If that were true, we could simply take a brain and recreate it. We also don’t understand energy – that which can neither be created nor destroyed. Law of Causation, karma, which makes all things in nature possible, too, is also not understood.

According to Vedic texts, we’re neither body nor mind nor intellect. We’re absolute pure and conscious energy – Atman. Atman is the root power which drives all our material drives. It’s the power that keeps the body alive. It’s also the energy that instils intellect. “Those who understand it will understand the world; those who don’t will suffer before perishing,” argued Vedic seers like Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita.

Until the self is realized, nothing is truly realized. Unless we comprehend the ideas of Atman, there’s simply no way to understand true intelligence. And since machines are based on our understanding of tasks and elements in nature, there can simply be no Artificial Intelligence, at least until then. Understanding the Self is the goal of all Vedic arts and sciences. So to even create Artificial Intelligence, we need to understand the intelligence which stems from the self – Aatman.

February 21, 2018

1 responses on "Artificial Intelligence: When can it truly be made possible?"

  1. AI (artificial intelligence) is best seen as an attempt to make computers perform tasks that are considered demanding intelligence when performed by humans, Since we do not really understand what is human intelligence we cannot expect to define AI as simulation of human intelligence on the computer. We have computer programs that can play chess at the level of chessmasters, but we don’t have programs that even children do easily like identifying people from photos.

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