Little progress in 60 years in artificial intelligence.
A few years ago I made a rare visit to the cinema to see the Golden Compass. I disliked the film, but the concept of the animal companions called daemons that every individual had in the film excited me, I wanted one. These daemons were essentially the spirit of the individual transformed into a unique talking companion animal living outside of the individual whose fate was tied up with that individual.
The word “daemon” is used in computer programming to describe a background process, and in Greek philosophy one definition of “daemon” was the concept “guardian angel.” With the infrastructure of smart phones, networks and servers now in place, it would be a small jump to turn a smart phone into an equivalent of a “daemon”.
I currently dislike the current paradigm where the technology appears to entrap the individual in slavery instead of liberty, stupidity instead of wisdom and a state of need rather than creativity. The concept of an AI personal companion perhaps as part of a smart phone excites me for what it can do from being a personal secretary to watching over your home whilst you are away. Currently the smart phone has become a potentially hostile agent on behalf of corporate and government to monitor everything you say or do. A “daemon” as I see it could turn the paradigm around so that the “daemon” is loyal and friendly to the individual it is connected to rather than the state or corporate.
The media has adopted the term for the rise of artificial intelligence, that moment when AI is able to write and improve on its own code as the Singularity. Despite the growth of a vast well-funded industry with hundreds of thousands of the best minds in the world the Singularity is a failed dream. Started in the 1950’s the AI revolution sixty years later has failed to materialise. Whilst there has been leaps in speed, size and efficiency of computers, for instance a standard smart phone has more processing power than the Voyager space craft that are now heading out of our solar system, the strides in AI is tiny.
The problem of the lack of progress in AI is down to the current paradigm that the people working in AI exist in. The proud computer scientist who declares they are a rational follower of the scientific method, who rejects everything that is of a spiritual or emotional nature in favour of abstract deterministic linear theories will never achieve AI. The human mind is no rational machine, it is a concrete, chaotic and non-linear system obeying the laws reflective in nature rather than the theories of university scholars.
For AI to progress the expert will have to think outside of the box, turning to nature, Jung, existentialism, right-brained thinking and metaphysics. The expert may have to think like an ancient alchemist who trod a mystical path as they attempted to turn lead into gold. I suspect few computer scientists would dare tread in the opposite path of where they are headed, which is why AI will remain a distant dream.