Google DeepMind is making artificial intelligence a slave to the algorithm
Google’s role in university artificial intelligence courses alarms Sheila Hayman
from the Director’s fellow, MIT Media Lab.
Your article (Hi-tech brain drain threatens British university research, 2 November) contains one particularly chilling revelation: that Google DeepMind now runs artificial intelligence courses at UCL and Oxford.
Having met the DeepMind people in my role with the MIT Media Lab, I know that their definition of “intelligence” is so impoverished that it doesn’t extend beyond the abstract calculations that an algorithm can achieve, and completely fails to understand that human intelligence is embodied and distributed throughout our physical selves – and indeed between them, in the mirror neurons that fire in sympathy when we watch a dancer or help an injured friend. In short, it’s not just depressing, it’s bad science.
Artificial intelligence of the kind Google promotes can play Go and even – at a pinch – recognise Bach or Picasso. It can never produce Bach or Picasso, still less understand the complexity of social forms and culture that made their lives possible.
If we entrust the education of those who will determine the future relationship of people and machines to a company whose core belief is that all human experience can be replicated by algorithms, all we can hope is that global warming wipes us out before the machines do.
Director’s fellow, MIT Media Lab
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