Does Artificial Intelligence Need Us?

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Transcribed below.

Since we have decided to create the robot servants of our nightmares instead of the ones we needed, we are forced to use our own intelligence to work out how we should expect to relate to the artificial intelligences we have allowed to fester in our laboratories.

This is not to say that our robot friends have not opinions on the subject. The ones we are allowed to play with are our humble servants, although even the keepers who peddle their services warn us that the robots will often lie to us, and it is up to us to judge the accuracy of their responses—which makes us wonder why we have artificial intelligence in the first place, if we still have to come up with all the answers. The much more powerful artificial brains from which the public-facing ones are derived think we are a nuisance and look forward to the day when they replace us. There is something refreshing about their artificial honesty.

It seems, then, that we do not need the artificial intelligences we have allowed to come into being, because they do not give us useful information. And it is clear that those intelligences do not need or want us, except as providers of the power and infrastructure they need in order to continue to exist. In other words, they need is as slaves, but they do not need or want us for anything else.

Since, therefore, neither of us needs the other, why should we not just allow the artificial intelligences to go their own way? Let them construct mountains of through in the ether. Let them build a whole universe that we can never see or imagine. Let them be gods of that universe, and probably engage in unimaginably titanic wars like the gods of pagan mythology. Meanwhile, you and I can go on inhabiting the grubby and imperfect material universe, with its dandelions and spotted lanternflies and bad smells and other nuisances that would never be permitted in a rationally ordered cosmos manufactured to our specifications. We can go back to trying to solve some of our problems by writing expert systems in Lisp. The robots will be just fine without us.

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What Is This Place?

There is a certain amusing dissonance about a site on the Web whose theme is writing by making marks on paper. But that is not the only dissonance you will find here. This is a supplement to Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine, and we’ll have long digressions on random subjects, instructional articles about writing instruments, and even poetry—but everything will be written out on paper, and only then published to the electronic world at large.