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Howard Yee

Software Engineer @ Rubenstein Technology Group,


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Can technology replace human intelligence?

This week in my Bioelectricity class we learned about extracellular fields. One facet of the study of extracellular field I find interesting is the determination of the field from a known source (AKA the Forward Problem) versus the determination of the source from a known field (AKA the Inverse Problem). Whereas the forward problem is simple and solutions may be obtained through calculations, the inverse problem poses a problem. The lack of uniqueness to the inverse problem means the solution requires interpretation, which may be subjective. We may also apply a mechanism for the interpretation; this mechanism is known as an AI. However, this facet of AI (document classification) is only the surface of the field.

Damon Horowitz gave a recent presentation at TEDxSoMa called “Why machines need people”. In it, he says that AI can never approach the intelligence of humans. He gives examples of AI systems, like classification and summarization. He explains that those systems are simply “pattern matching” without any intelligence behind them. If true, perhaps the subjective interpretation of inverse problems is welcomed over the dumb classification. Through experience, the interpreters may have more insight than one can impart on an algorithm.

However, what Damon failed to mention was that most of those AI systems built to do small tasks is known as weak AI. There is a whole other field of study for strong AI, whose methods of creating intelligence is much more than “pattern matching”. Proponents of strong AI believe that human intelligence can be replicated. Of course we are a long way off from seeing human-level AI. What makes human intelligence hard to replicate? Can it be simulated? What if we created a model of the human brain, would it be able to think?

Related Videos (not on Ted):
“Why Machines need People”


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    Mar 9 2012: Does anyone reallyknow how much potential processing power google could access if it started to make its own decisions? I think google or something like it will achieve true AI without us even noticing. They say the human brain is the most complex thing in the universe (I know that is extremely anthropocentric) but the human brain is static regarding its development. The internet doubles in complexity every year? month? week? does anyone really know?
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      Mar 14 2012: Peter,

      The work that google does blows me away. You are definitely right that the internet becomes more and more complex, while the human brain isn't becoming that much more complicated. However, you must consider:

      So much time has been spent on understanding the body, brain, etc. After all this time, we still do not completely understand the mind and body. I find it hard to believe that we will ever be able to understand the mind! Even if we are able to make a model of the mind to help us do AI work, it will never be perfect. That is what makes me believe that we will never be able to perfectly model the human brain.

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