So in my last post, I asked a lot of questions about artificial intelligence and the differences between machine and mankind. I think Hayles read my blog… No really, I know that books don’t work that way, but Hayles did go more deeply into my questions in the final chapters of this book.
Beth Anne commented on my last post saying that she didn’t think that a machine could ever completely replicate humanity. I mostly agree with her, and Hayles seems to be in the same boat. She seems confused.
“As the cognitions that intelligent machines can perform have deepened and broadened, we can exclude what they do from our definition of “thinking” only if we narrow the range of what counts as thinking so significantly that it becomes questionable whether many humans can think. Similarly, the proposition that intelligent machines can have minds seems highly controversial, if not downright false, to many people today. Yet already researchers are engaged in developing intelligent machines that can perform mind-like activities.”
At first she seems to be questioning whether humans have intelligence, I point I brought up, but then she realizes that most people think the idea of artificial intelligence is downright false.
Part of the problem with this whole debate is that it’s all theoretical. We can examine how artificial intelligence works in fiction but that’s mostly all we’ve got. So while Hayles postulates about how such and such a character struggles with the divide between technology and humanity, it’s just postulation based on a story.
Humans like those stories and that opportunity for postulation. I think it’s probably because of the points that Beth Anne brings up about narration. She and Hayles agree that humans naturally make up stories to personify. Actually my most recent poetry kick has been personifying inanimate objects. I tend to talk to them too. While this might just be because I’m going a little crazy, I think that it also has to do with my humanity. I project the traits of what I’m most familiar with (humanity) into things that are not human.
N. Katherine Hayles. My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts (p. 215). Kindle Edition.
via Hayles 4a.