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Human Intelligence Is Fundamentally Different From Machine Intelligence

Design theorist William Dembski discusses the problems we will encounter when we try to integrate the two when, say, sharing the road with self-driving cars

Recently, design theorist William Dembski wrote a long essay on artificial general intelligence at his site, billdembski.com, The article is also available as a series of shorter pieces at Evolution News. Earlier this week, we offered some highlights here. Here are highlights from two further segments and from a reflection by Dembski on the series:

Human vs artificial intelligence concept.

From “Artificial General Intelligence: The Poverty of the Stimulus”:

The sheer scale of efforts needed to make artificial intelligence impressive suggests human intelligence is fundamentally different from machine intelligence. But reasons to think the two are different don’t stop there. Domain specificity should raise additional doubts about the two being the same. When Elon Musk, for instance, strives to bring about fully autonomous (level 5) driving, it is by building neural nets that every week must sort through a trillion images taken from Tesla automobiles driving in real traffic under human control. Not only is the amount of data to be analyzed staggering, but it is also domain specific, focused entirely on developing self-driving automobiles.

Indeed, no one thinks that the image data being collected from Tesla automobiles and then analyzed by neural nets to facilitate full self-driving is also going to be used for automatically piloting a helicopter or helping a robot navigate a ski slope, to say nothing of playing chess or composing music. All our efforts in artificial intelligence are highly domain specific. What makes LLMs, and ChatGPT in particular, so impressive is that language is such a general instrument for expressing human intelligence. And yet, even the ability to use language in contextually relevant way based on huge troves of humanly generated data is still domain specific.

William A. Dembski, “Artificial General Intelligence: The Poverty of the Stimulus,” Evolution News, January 30, 2024


From “Artificial General Intelligence: AI’s Temptation to Theft Over Honest Toil”:

Just to be clear: I’m not wishing for fully automated self-driving to fail. As with all automation in the past, fully automated self-driving would entail the disruption of some jobs and the emergence of others. It would be very interesting, as an advance of AI, if driving — in fully human environments — could be fully automated. My worry, however, is that what will happen instead is that AI engineers will, with political approval, reconfigure our driving environments, making them so much simpler and machine friendly, that full automation of driving happens, but with little semblance to human driving capability. Just as a train on a rail requires minimal, or indeed no, human intervention, so cars driving on virtual railroads might readily dispense with the human element.

William A. Dembski, “Artificial General Intelligence: AI’s Temptation to Theft Over Honest Toil,” Evolution News, January 31, 2024

Also, from “Artificial General Intelligence: Digital vs. Traditional Immortality”:

Ray Kurzweil foresees a future of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) — the topic of this series at Evolution News — in which we achieve immortality by shedding our human bodies and becoming fully digital. This prospect is the most wonderful thing he can imagine. Yet a reality check is in order: Just how great is such digital immortality and how does it compare with traditional immortality? As we’ll see, good old-fashioned immortality has advantages that digital immorality cannot hope to rival. Let’s start with traditional immortality. Traditional immortality sees finite humans sharing eternity with an infinite God. This God is an actual or realized infinity, and not just a potential infinity in the sense of the natural numbers, for which there’s always a bigger number given any finite set of numbers. Indeed, it makes little sense to think of a God who inhabits eternity and whose mind can grasp all of mathematics (certainly divine omniscience encompasses mathematics) as having considered only those natural numbers from 0 to some big number N, as though God had yet to consider N+1, N+2, etc.

William A. Dembski, “Digital vs. Traditional Immortality,” Evolution News, February 1, 2024

Here are all the highlights from the series:

Dembski: Does the squawk around AI sound like the Tower of Babel? Well then, maybe that’s just what it is. He sees the breathless and implausible claims for computers that think like people as the modern equivalent of ancient idols. Here are some highlights.

Human intelligence is fundamentally different from machine intelligence. Dembski discusses the problems we will encounter when we try to integrate the two when, say, sharing the road with self-driving cars. He also touches on Ray Kurzweil’s quest for digital immortality and how it falls short of the original quest and its religious expressions.

William Dembski: When is transhumanism a form of technobigotry? In his further essays in the current series, he explains why AI cannot avoid collapse without the input of novel information from humans. AI systems alone go bankrupt, Dembski argues, because intelligence by nature requires novel insights and creativity, which is to say, an oracle from outside.


William Dembski: Destroy the AI idol before it destroys us. Design theorist Dembski points to the way that chess adapted to computers to become better than ever as a way forward in the age of AI He warns that the promoters of AI as “taking over” have a vested interest in claims that keep them at the top of society’s intellectual and social order.

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Human Intelligence Is Fundamentally Different From Machine Intelligence