The field of artificial intelligence has been a boom market almost from its beginning 60 years ago with the brilliant but doomed British mathematician Alan Turing. One branch of AI believes that a computer will one day duplicate how the human brain works, once the technical difficulties are worked out. Turing was more clever than that. He only asked that a computer’s responses convince a thinking mind. The famous Turing test was the cyber equivalent of, “If it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.” But is this really true?
AI has taken us to the verge of an Orwellian dilemma, because the spectacular advantages offered by computers weigh so heavily and create such enormous optimism, it’s easy to overlook one flaw: AI isn’t based on the truth. Computers process information at lightning speed and their abilities improve as the algorithms that are programmed into them become more sophisticated. Yet, without question, life isn’t algorithmic, which means that no computer can ever truly be alive. Computers cannot and will never have minds.
Artificial intelligence isn’t based on the truth.
This assertion runs contrary to every part of the AI worldview, which not only foresees mind-like computers but also, in one extreme fantasy, declares that a human being can be digitized, placing every memory into computer memory, along with a lifetime’s worth of experience — thus creating a viable afterlife. A digitized human being would be equal to a living human according to this fantasy. There would be no need for a body when life comes down to nothing except information.
Such a worldview is quite peculiar, and only in this anti-philosophical age could it even gain traction. The “quacks like a duck” standard for measuring the success of AI falls far short of the real thing. When you ask your computer to translate a page of German into English, a program can do it almost instantly. Does this mean that your computer knows German? Of course not. The artificial imitation of thinking isn’t the real thing. The translator program does its job by matching words and phrases to a dictionary. Someone who knows German doesn’t do this at all. Thinking requires a mind, period.