Are Machines Intelligent?


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But let’s continue our talk here a little bit more about intelligent behavior and what that means with human behavior as well, and when we’re trying to actually make AI that seems human. And so one of the problems with AI is that it forces the computer to mimic all human behavior, not just intelligence. And so when we start to create an AI for it to truly be human like, right, it has to do all of our own behavior. And so things like slow response times, typos, commonly miss-held conceptions that aren’t true, connecting words like I’m doing right now. All of these things are human behavior that may not be considered intelligent, or clean, or you know “perfect”, but it’s something that a successful AI agent must be able to do in order to pass what we call the Turing test. And we’ll talk about that here in a second. But likewise, an AI must also act, sometimes really, as if it can’t solve some problems that are perfectly well within its abilities to actually be able to solve, but simply because those problems are unsolvable by human intelligence or unsolvable in the amount of time it could take the AI or computer to actually solve. So if you’re trying to make an AI that is trained to behave and act like a human, it needs to do as humans do, and it can’t be perfect.

So that is where Alan Turing comes into play. And we’ve already talked about Alan Turing to some degree, especially with the bomb and his work with the Enigma machine, as well as the Turing machine. But he also wrote in a paper, “I propose to consider the question can machines think?” This is a quote from a 1950 paper that he wrote, called Computing Machinery and Intelligence, which he opened with that statement and tried to open up some discussion, right? He was deeply interested in the field of artificial intelligence, but unfortunately, there really was no good way to determine if a system was truly intelligent at the time. And so in that paper, he describes one way to test machines intelligence, which is now known as the Turing test. The basic idea of a Turing test is as follows. You have one person in a room with a computer capable of simple text-based chat, so they’re sitting on a terminal at a computer, and they’re trying to talk in this chat room or to someone else, and that someone else will be a computer or could be a computer that will try to pass itself off as a human by responding to the prompts from the tester. The tester then must determine whether or not he or she is conversing with a computer or a real person. And now there really hasn’t been someone who has truly passed the Turing test completely with flying colors. And the Turing test as a whole is biased, and there’s some problems with it. And so it’s not perfect either. There have been some algorithms that have passed the Turing test to a certain degree, but there are some problems here.

So can you think of any of those problems that a Turing test may actually have? Some of those problems are actually exhibited from a variant of the Turing test called the Chinese room. So the Chinese room experiment was proposed by John Seely in 1980, in his paper, “Minds, Brains and Programs”. In this setup, an English speaking person is placed in a room with sufficient supplies and a set of instructions completely written in English, that directs them to accept Chinese language characters as input and output a result or response of Chinese characters. On the other side of the wall as a native Chinese speaker, performing what we refer to as a Turing test. And in this case, the person is convinced that the person on the other side of the wall is indeed a human. However, the computer being a human that only speaks English is completely unaware of the conversation that is taking place in Chinese. So in this case, is the machine, right or the person intelligent, or merely just so advanced at following instructions that it appears to be intelligent? So this is a trick right? Are we just good at giving the computer instructions to mimic human behavior or is it just someone who’s good at following instructions? Now, following instructions, there’s some intelligent behavior involved with that, although not a whole lot, but it’s not exhibiting the full intelligent range, right? So there’s some of the fundamental issues with the Turing test and things like that of trying to truly quantify whether or not an AI is a human or not. But this leads to an endless debate right between strong AI and weak AI.

When you think of an AI in movies, this is usually or typically a strong AI, which is designed to completely mimic or surpass human intelligence. Now, this is most movies, right? And most movies that you watch, they’re going to be AI that can converse perfectly in English and answer all questions, and even look up things that instantaneously that at the moment no machine is actually possible. Iron Man is a perfect example with his AI Jarvis or Friday later on and some of the later movies. And so unfortunately, really at this time, strong AI is just not a reality. And there’s even some debate of whether or not it’s actually possible. Most of the AI that we deal with today is in the form of a weak AI. This is also called narrow AI, which is designed to perform only a subset of intelligent actions. Now, just because something is a weak AI doesn’t mean that it’s not possible of good quality intelligent actions. A lot of times weak AI is extremely good at one particular kind of behavior, but not so great at others.