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The Myth of Artificial Intelligence

Tech entrepreneur Erik J. Larson on why the AI hype is profoundly misplaced

In today’s featured COSM video, watch author Erik J. Larson discusses ideas underlying his book, The Myth of Artificial Intelligence, as well as what he is exploring in his next book, which focuses on the history of the 21st Century so far. Here’s the summary of the book from Amazon:

Futurists insist that AI will soon eclipse the capacities of the most gifted human mind. What hope do we have against superintelligent machines? But we aren’t really on the path to developing intelligent machines. In fact, we don’t even know where that path might be.

A tech entrepreneur and pioneering research scientist working at the forefront of natural language processing, Erik Larson takes us on a tour of the landscape of AI to show how far we are from superintelligence, and what it would take to get there. Ever since Alan Turing, AI enthusiasts have equated artificial intelligence with human intelligence. This is a profound mistake. AI works on inductive reasoning, crunching data sets to predict outcomes. But humans don’t correlate data sets: we make conjectures informed by context and experience. Human intelligence is a web of best guesses, given what we know about the world. We haven’t a clue how to program this kind of intuitive reasoning, known as abduction. Yet it is the heart of common sense. That’s why Alexa can’t understand what you are asking, and why AI can only take us so far.

Larson argues that AI hype is both bad science and bad for science. A culture of invention thrives on exploring unknowns, not overselling existing methods. Inductive AI will continue to improve at narrow tasks, but if we want to make real progress, we will need to start by more fully appreciating the only true intelligence we know―our own.

The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do: Larson, Erik J.: 9780674983519: Amazon.com: Books

We’ve been sharing a number of lectures from past COSM conferences. This video is just one of many you can find at the Bradley Center’s YouTube page. There you’ll find several lectures, interviews, and panels dealing with issues that range from economics, Big Tech, and artificial intelligence. Notable speakers include 2022 Kyoto Prize winner Carver Mead, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and George Gilder, co-founder of Discovery Institute and author of Life After Capitalism: The Meaning of Wealth, the Future of the Economy, and the Time Theory of Money.

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The Myth of Artificial Intelligence