What The Duck – Thoughts On Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence.   Human-programmed algorithms that are designed to allow machines to learn from the environment and improve the outcome of those algorithms over time based on what they learn.    It is a great idea and may will point to things like voice-enabled search technology and self driving cars as two indicators that true AI is not that far off.   I disagree.

Don’t get me wrong.   I love technology.   The hardware and software we use today is light years ahead of the gadgets we got to play with just a few years ago.   You can’t even compare what I started with back in the early 80s.   Fundamentally the same, but more different than alike.  And yes, computer “intelligence” is vastly improved over teletype terminal and punch-card days.

But it is far from intelligent.

Take auto-correct for example.   How many people do you know that actually use the phrase “what the duck” on a regular basis?   I personally  know exactly ZERO.   I know dozens of people that drop “WTF”.    Yet tens-of-millions of people type “what the fuck” into their phones daily while every predictive typing and autocorrect algorithm INSIST they meant “what the duck”.    No matter what you do it will replace that one important “f” with a “d” EVERY TIME until you employ human intelligence to forcibly override that behavior.

Those predictive and autocorrect algorithms may not be built on full AI stacks, but they have certainly been drinking from the same knowledge pool.    The fact that they may not be based on a true AI engine speaks volumes about how far we are from everyday usability of Artificial Intelligence and just how intelligent it really is.    In some very select applications it is astounding what AI can do, but in the real world it is far closer to that first “Lisa” chat bot than it is to Skynet.

Maybe there will come a day when autocorrect will stop being the punch line to millions of memes.    Maybe, just maybe, when that day comes I may re-evaluate Artificial Intelligence and start to worry that a sentient computer neural network, and thus Skynet, is not far behind.   For now, I’m not going to worry about it.

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