The fear of the unknown has been innate to human beings. Humans like to anticipate the consequences, therefore, become the victim of things that they cannot understand, and modern technology is inclusive in the list. Technology plays a beneficial role in our society, however, is terrorizing for some humans. Rapid technological advancements make it nearly impossible to comprehend its consequences, and without its knowledge, many of us fear from the anticipation of how powerful the technology could become. Scientist claims and exhibition of modern humanoid roots as powerful are giving popularity to the belief of the dominance of Artificial Intelligence. Science fiction movies like The Space Odyssey, The Matrix, and similar others add up to this fear by depicting a threat to the human life, a threat of robots and artificially intelligent machines which can lead to the extinction of the humanity.
There comes the moment when a question pops up in our mind that, “Can artificial intelligence surpass human intelligence?” There is a conflict among the scientists about this issue. One of prominent physicist Stephen Hawking says that artificial intelligence would undo human knowledge shortly because of slow expansion of human mind. On the other hand, advocates of human intelligence argue on the existence of artificial intelligence on human comprehension (“Hawking: AI”). Although it is feared that the exponential progress of artificial intelligence can have direct repercussions on human existence, nevertheless it cannot surpass the capability of human intelligence because it lacks creativity and its inability to function out of the defined algorithms. Moreover, as the full potential of human intelligence is still unknown, the argument of AI surpassing human intelligence becomes fallacious.
“Necessity is the mother of invention”. Since the dawn of humanity, the chief instinct of humans has been to strive for better. This ability and curiosity have led people to make great inventions and perform technological feats that go beyond the reflection of ordinary human mind. These inventions are the result of human intelligence (HI), which is the ability of human brain to interpret and manipulate complex ideas, learn from experiences, adapt to new situations, and use knowledge to manipulate the environment (Sternberg). Human Intelligence is as old as humanity and has evolved gradually over centuries to reach its contemporary heights. All the wonders from the invention of the simple calculation machine “Abacus” to artificially intelligent robots are beholden to HI. In contrast to HI, Artificial intelligence (AI), is the capability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to imitate human mind, learning from surroundings and becoming efficient than people at performing tasks (Copeland). AI possesses vital importance among the scientists and individuals. The idea of AI is ancient as Aristotle described syllogism (deductive reasoning), a method of mechanical thought but its exponential development phase starts from 1950 when scientist Alan Turing, famous for his Turing test which initiated the development of modern robots.
According to Turing, in future, there will be a possibility of communication and sustain of a conversation with a computer. These days we have countless examples of World’s greatest tech companies like Google, IBM, Intel, and Apple making massive investments in AI’s research ranging almost to one-quarter of their earnings (Newman). ASIMO is now world’s best humanoid robot whose purpose is to help people in daily tasks genuinely. ASIMO can perceive, interpret, and communicate with humans but execution speed is far less than humans (History of Asimo). AI researchers are trying to develop strong AI which can execute operations faster than the current robots. AI has helped humans in many areas from medical technology to business analytics. Its ability to analyze large data has benefited companies like Amazon, UPS, and Walmart (Loeb). Still, the pursuit of the perfect emulation of a human mind and incorporation of it in non-humans has a long way to go as several mysteries of the human brain itself are unsolved even today. A perfect imaging of the most powerful phenomena of the universe i.e. human cognition, though practically impossible, is the ultimate target of the modern AI researchers.
Despite the speed and accuracy and all other edges that machines and robots have over humans, creativity is the field in which artificial intelligence cannot compete with humans because of the restriction of the artificial intelligence to perform out of the defined parameters. There has been an ever-lasting debate regarding the ability of artificial intelligence to be creative. Creativity is a characteristic indigenous to human species and to cultivate it in a human-designed set of incredibly complex circuits seems impossible. One might question the capability of human intellect to develop equally creative machines, however, even if artificial intelligence researchers succeed in designing such a device that can exhibit creativity, it still would prove the creativity and the extraordinary intelligence of the creator, not the creation. Creativity is defined and perceived as bringing forth something new, creating something new or inventing something new. For example, an artist is creative if he/she produces his/her unique artwork depicting in it something the viewers have not seen before, or their aesthetics have not experienced. Besides, creativity is closely linked to the expectations, or rather can be defined from expectations. Consider an example of a pianist, he/she might be admired because of his/her exceptional piano skills and excellent composition of symphonies. That admiration was because the audience has experienced something new, nevertheless that admiration will only last till the pianist’s work is rendered monotonous for the public.
Working in the same lane, in the realm of technology, an example of a circuit can be considered which is designed to compute permutations; it can produce new results in seconds that could not have been possible by humans, given their cognitive ability i.e. it is possible but time-consuming. These results cannot be referred to like the creativity of the machine because the machine was designed to do so; the creator was expecting the same from its creation. Applying the similar logic, it can be argued that the artificial intelligence would only respond and behave in a capacity known to its creator, therefore, popping up of something new from it or expecting it to act out of the parameters apparently will not be expected—the machine cannot, therefore, prove to be creative. Furthermore, there is an abstract interpretation of human cognition. According to French philosopher René Descartes, working of mind is not connected with the body functioning; perception and thinking process is the characteristic of a spiritual matter that humans have i.e. the soul and thus, is independent of the mechanism of the body exhibiting it. Although some do not have the belief in metaphysics and supernatural, still a substantial chunk of the population believes and cherish these concepts, and therefore, the metaphysical explanation of the humans’ cognitive abilities cannot be overlooked. By this explanation, imitating something as complex and beyond the scope of the physical world, is something that is not merely achievable. Therefore, it can be asserted with firm grounds that creativity is an innate characteristic of human beings and producing something capable of this feature is potentially impossible.
Furthermore, as artificial intelligence is the product of human intelligence, it cannot behave in a way that is external to its defined instructions. Humans have designed machines and circuits to utilize them as needed. These are programmed and structured with defined algorithms, which can be executed in countless ways, but still within the defined boundaries. Taking the example of a machine, in which the technology of computation is rooted i.e. abacus which was used for solving simple arithmetical problems, it can be gathered that a device as simple as abacus can be used to perform countless calculations, but in the end, those are just the calculations the machine was designed for. Similarly, technologically advanced contemporary computers can perform myriads of calculations and computations in parallel. However, those calculations are the result of the processing mechanism, which is limited and defined according to its designer. Artificial Intelligence researchers also explain the functioning of the brain as a computer, working on defined rules and principles. It is called the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). “One of the core philosophical arguments for CTM is that it can make clear how thought and content are causally relevant in the physical world. It does this by saying thoughts are syntactic entities that are computed over: their form makes them causally relevant in just the same way that the form makes fragments of source code in a computer causally relevant. This basic argument may be made more specific in numerous ways.
For example, Allen Newell couched it regarding the physical symbol hypothesis, according to which being a physical symbol system (a physical computer) is a necessary and enough condition of thinking. Haugeland framed the claim in formalist terms: if you take care of the syntax, the semantics will take care of itself” (Milkowski). This approach of generalizing complex neural processes as a series of algorithms and structured principles is flawed, and this misinterpretation led to the fantasy of artificial intelligence dominating human intelligence because the computers are much more efficient and speedy in executing algorithms. Noam Chomsky, a renown philosopher, and cognitive scientist criticized the approach of artificial intelligence researchers in the same way, “Chomsky critiqued the field of AI for adopting an approach reminiscent of behaviorism, except in more modern, computationally sophisticated form. Chomsky argued that the field’s heavy use of statistical techniques to pick regularities in masses of data be unlikely to yield the analytical insight that science ought to offer. For Chomsky, the “new AI” — focused on using statistical learning techniques to better mine and predict data — is unlikely to yield general principles about the nature of intelligent beings or cognition” (Katz). Emulating something as complex as the brain, whose potential capabilities are even unknown to the humans themselves, is just an impossible-to-accomplish fantasy.
Arguing over the issue that whether artificial intelligence can dominate over human intelligence implies that one is sufficiently knowledgeable about human intelligence, which is not the case. Human intelligence is one of the most powerful phenomena in the whole universe. There are thousands of mysteries underlying the functioning of a palm-sized organ i.e. brain, which is still undiscovered. Only a small percentage of what mind encompasses has been revealed yet. “It is that great tension between the two, the intermingling of the known and the unknown, the conscious and the unconscious, the 5 percent and the 95 percent, that the pioneers exploring this vast and intricate universe of our minds will continue to probe. However, there will never be a complete understanding. The enigmas of the mind and the mechanics of the brain will forever define the ultimate mystery of simply being human” (Maszak). Artificial Intelligence researchers are struggling to give machines and non-humans the properties of human cognition. Their argument is thus in itself flawed as they are fighting to achieve the target i.e. imitating human brain, that is too vague and undefined of a goal for the researchers themselves as well.
The purpose of emulating human brain is debatable, the question of artificial intelligence surpassing it is a too hasty and baseless argument. Moreover, the behaviors and cognitive capacities depicted by the humans are not the full utilization of the capacity of the brain. “According to cognitive neuroscientists, we are conscious of only about 5 percent of our cognitive activity, so most of our decisions, actions, emotions, and behavior depends on the 95 percent of brain activity that goes beyond our conscious awareness” (Maszak). Similarly, there is a widespread scientific belief that only a small percentage of the brain is utilized and the results are based on different experimentations. “When MythBuster Tory Belleci took a series of mind-bending tests to track how much of his brain got a workout, the results indicated otherwise. While hooked up to a magnetoencephalogram (MEG), a neuroimaging device that measures magnetic fields produced by the brain’s electrical currents, Tory exercised four different neurological regions with memory drills, math calculations, word associations and image comparisons. Over the course of the MEG exam, around 35 percent of Tory’s brain jumped into action” (“10 percent of Brain”). Therefore, as the mysteries of the brain are still unsolved, claiming that the brain and its capabilities can be imitated and surpassed, automatically renders the claim as inauthentic and incredible.
“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded by machines” said by Stephen Hawking (AI: Hawking). The people fearful of the rise of machines and technology believe this with certainty, that machines have the ability to adapt to changes more instantly than humans, who take time to recognize, comprehend and respond to changes. To oppose the views of brilliant and insightful, Hawking is definitely not an easy task, and if Hawking believes in the dominance of machines over humans in near future, there must be some substance to this argument. It cannot be denied that humans are subject to biological evolution to cope up with changes around them which is a slow process and if machines are given the ability to observe and respond to changing dynamics around them and alter their functions and responses accordingly, they will do so in a much quicker manner. But there is a catch; human intelligence only adapts to those changes which become permanent in the environment in which HI operates. That is the main reason biological evolution is slow in the process.
On the contrary, the quicker ability of machines to evolve will primarily mean that they will invariably respond to changes that may be temporary. This will render them unable to work in an environment where those changes have not occurred or where the nature of those changes may be varying on a wide spectrum. Evolving to situations that have not taken place permanently is not a useful weapon for the machines in the clash of HI versus AI. Some may even regard it as a disadvantage on part of AI. In the case of sudden permanent changes in the environment, say, God forbid, as a result of nuclear war (which is the most extreme of cases), AI may just have an advantage on HI. But here comes the factor of survival instinct of humans. According to scientists, the survival instinct of humans, driven by the fear of death, has been one of the primary driving forces of the evolution of mankind and domination of human race. This fear has allowed humans to adapt to most of the threatening situations, pushing further than possible, fighting harder than possible and survive somehow. This fear of death cannot be programmed into a machine and if, in any case, the machines pose a threat to the existence of mankind the survival instinct of humans will stand in the way, allowing them to adapt to the new situations in a different and perhaps more efficient way than the machines.
Exponential technological advancement in the field of science, especially artificial intelligence, has posed various threats to the existence of humanity. The paranoid caused as a result led to the discussions and debates about capability and the ultimate form of the artificial intelligence. In light of the above-mentioned arguments, the debate whether artificial intelligence will/can surpass human intelligence seems to have a clear explanation. As AI lacks fundamental human mind characteristics, for instance, the creativity of mind, the states of consciousness, etc. it cannot primarily compete with the caliber of human intelligence. Moreover, AI is based on the programmed set of instructions given by humans, therefore, it cannot be expected to venture beyond these limitations. Also, AI is unable to adapt to sudden changes because of its limited and slow interaction with the world. Keeping these limitations in mind, one should not dismiss the fact that this rapidly approaching technological singularity phenomenon is a reality. Evolution is inevitable. It will happen as long as the ability of the human to learn exists, as knowledge has no boundaries. Conclusively the essence of this research is that a creation of a creator cannot subjugate the creator.
“10 Percent of Brain.” Discovery. 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 May 2017.
Copeland, Jack. “What Is Artificial Intelligence?” AlanTuring.net What Is AI? Web. 21 May 2017. <http://www.alanturing.net/turing_archive/pages/reference%20articles/what%20is%20ai.html>.
“Hawking: AI Could Be the ‘worst Thing Ever for Humanity’.” CNET. 02 May 2014. Web. 20 May 2017.
Hern, Alex. “What Is the Turing Test? And Are We All Doomed Now?” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 09 June 2014. Web. 21 May 2017. <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/09/what-is-the-alan-turing-test>.
“History of Asimo.” History of ASIMO Robotics | ASIMO Innovations by Honda. Web. 20 May 2017.
Katz, Yarden. “Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 18 May 2017. <https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/noam-chomsky-on-where-artificial-intelligence-went-wrong/261637/>
Loeb, Walter. “Radical Change Is Coming to Grocery Business As Amazon, Walmart, Lidl And Aldi Get Aggressive.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 Dec. 2016. Web. 20 May 2017. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2016/12/08/radical-changes-are-coming-to-food-retail-as-amazon-walmart-lidl-and-aldi-get-aggressive/>.
Maszak, Marianne Szegedy. “Mysteries of the Mind.” Mysteries of the mind. US News and World Report, Web. 18 May 2017.
Milkowski, Marcin. “The Computational Theory of Mind.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. 18 May 2017.
Newman, Daniel. “Inside Look: The World’s Largest Tech Companies Are Making Massive AI Investments.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 17 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 May 2017. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2017/01/17/inside-look-the-worlds-largest-tech-companies-are-making-massive-ai-investments/#7ee1d0aa4af2>.
Sternberg, Robert J. “Human Intelligence.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 26 Apr. 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.
Feature Image Credits: Phrasee