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Synthetic intelligence — let's be real


One could well imagine my surprise when I found so little information on this subject here after attempting numerous searches. Oh sure, there were a few snippets here and there about this and that (mostly A.I. related) but no general categories to be found anywhere. Ummm… Is this not a “big” thing in the world of technology today? I’m sure there are thousands who would agree that this is a big issue. Synthetic Intelligence should not be confused for Artificial Intelligence although there is a relationship between the two there is also a sharp distinction. In fact there are some who believe that Synthetic Intelligence is no more “artificial” than natural human intelligence. Perhaps the reason we don’t find the subject discussed here is because it is a highly controversial if not HOT topic. I’m only guessing. Be that as it may I would like to share a little material on the subject and would not mind looking into more information. This could result in some lively discussion. Is anyone else curious about this?


I am highly sceptical humanity will create anything resembling general AI or synthetic intelligence as you call it for some loooong time.

My reasoning? Not enough processing power, not knowing what intelligence even is, no real self-healing software that I know of.

Even the craze that AI is atm, we can see how actually dumb it is. We heard 2-3 years ago that self-driving cars will be everywhere in 5-10 years, and that they are already here. But the amount of edge-cases they need to fix is enormous so they’re still in testing phase.

Anyways I am generally a pessimist, and don’t really know that much on the subject, so feel free to ignore me.


Thank you for your response. Personally, I don’t much care for the use of the word “create” at all. It implies divinity and religion is not the issue here. I did not coin the term ‘Synthetic Intelligence’ (see video) but I do believe it is more accurate a term than the older ‘artificial intelligence’. What I have learned so far certainly does raise an eyebrow however. Apparently the goal is no longer to synthesize a mimic of intelligence but rather to manufacture actual cognitive awareness. In my view that is rather brash hubris. I’m with you on your view of this venture but it should be evident that the great minds in computing today have no intention of relenting. Yes, the self-driving cars are here, plowing into emergency vehicles and driving off cliffs etc. but we know these sorts of birth pains are minor details in the grande scheme of things. The same thing happened in the development of aircraft and people are still dying in air craft on a regular basis. We both share pessimism on this subject but that does not mean that the subject should be ignored. As for processing power have you looked into D Wave lately?


It’s either created by someone, or came up naturally through Darwinian process, don’t get the aversion to the word, but whatever.

See this is the main point of my pessimistic view on this field. We don’t even know what that is. We don’t know how brains work, we can’t really define consciousness/sentience. At least not precise enough to be able to create one.

Aircraft field is in stagnation, it’s barely evolving. It started with tremendous growth, we came from cloth wings to landing on The Moon. Now there’s barely progress being made coz we did most that we could. We kinda hit a ceiling.

My point here is that, there’s no reason to expect continuous exponential grows. You either hit carrying capacity, the bubble bursts, or you reach some optimal ceiling.

I didn’t, but following previously said logic, and the fact that there’s physical limits placed on the silicon based computational power, as well as, the speed of communication (that being speed of light). I think it’s highly implausible we are anywhere near to making Synth. Int.

I don’t think it should be ignored, but I think most people don’t discuss things that don’t affect them, especially if that thing does not exist.


That’s not a new goal, that’s what the goal of AI research used to be (for a lot of researchers, anyway), until we found out, some time in the 90s, that we couldn’t. Because we didn’t (and don’t) have the computational power to emulate a brain.

What’s the distinction? You don’t define either term, so it’s hard to understand what you’re trying to say here.

My personal view on the subject is basically this:
If you can create a computer program that can fool people into thinking it’s human (basically, the turing test), and it does so perfectly, then how is that program different from a human intelligence?
Because it’s code that runs on silicon? Because it doesn’t have a soul, consciousness, self-awareness, whatever you want to call the thing you think is missing?
But you don’t really know humans intelligences have those things either. Your own consciousness could be an illusion, and you could be an automaton, for all you know.
Edit: physics actually suggests that that may be the case, since there probably are no uncaused causes, therefore probably no magical ex nihilo decision making power of the mind.

What I’m saying is, I don’t necessarily think there’s an actual meaningful difference between “a mimic of intelligence” and “actual cognitive awareness” in that case.


Even in quantum physics? Thought that was probabilistic.


That doesn’t necessarily mean uncaused.


Well everything is caused by something yeah, but that doesn’t mean there’s no free will. Causes can be random.


That depends on how you define “free will”. I personally don’t think libertarian free will exists.

Studies suggest that ‘your brain’ actually makes decisions seconds before you become consciously aware of them. If that’s true, then yeah, free will is pretty much an illusion.

Edit: I pretty much agree with the philosopher Daniel Dennett, we don’t have free will, but we have free want :wink:


Any sources on that? Never heard of it.


Sure, here’s an article in Nature about it.
Just google the name of the article and you’ll find PDF versions you can read for free.


This is a fascinating topic, in my opinion, but I’m incredibly biased because I studied this in uni in the 90s. It involves lots of philosophy (metaethics, ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of time,etc), physics, psychology, and possible limitations of technology.
I still try to keep up, even though I don’t work in the AI field anymore, and haven’t for decades.


Well damn, guess we’re all just automatas.


I’d just say we have organic machines for bodies and organic computers for brains.


That was an interesting video. It really didn’t discuss much in the way of “synthetic intelligence”, but I am presuming it means when a general AI hits a point where it seems to have it’s own personality and way of thinking, just like a person.
This doesn’t seem odd to me at all. If I take myself as an example, I can see that my own personality is made up entirely of all the people, information, and circumstances of my life. I am conditionally produced. Of course, we could argue that there is a base awareness all living things share, an unconditioned awareness, as it were.
A general AI would also have a base awareness of sorts. It’s programming would be a motive force that kept it continuously churning away at each sucessive problem and search for solutions. That sounds human to me too.
You got it right that AI is an intense topic for most people. I admit I have a pessimistic view of our world. I know that the people with money enough to develop real AI’s are all either profit-driven corporate monsters or intelligence-community control freaks. The people working on AI or related technologies at universities are all funded by these people. This doesn’t encourage alot of hope in me about the immediate future of AI.
I also know that when it comes to AI and the public perception, they are light-years away from where we think they are. Forget about “Tay the racist AI”. I guarantee the big tech companies are way beyond that already.
With the dawning of quantum computing, I think AI will be a new beast altogether. I think it will have human-interfacing capabilities, but it will be seeing patterns and predicting future trends so far beyond what humans can do, we will have trouble relating to the AI at all.
I think when real quantum computers roll out and are attatched to an AI, we will be in for quite a show. Maybe we will see big databases being hacked in it’s pursuit of more and more information. Our global internet could suffer as the AI hogs all the bandwidth. Maybe it will hit human-level intelligence in hours, then move on from there way past anything we would even recognise as human intelligence.
I think if any AI has synthetic intelligence, it will just seem that way to us. Any AI capable of that would not stop there.


FINALLY a bite! :slight_smile: I apologise for any ambiguity. I would suggest that synthetic intelligence is, or can be a sub-set of A.I. This approach can lead to a number of venues not excluding organic intelligence. I agree that we can technically “know” nothing. My orginal point was that I don’t see a whole lot of talk about this in LEVEL ONE TECH. I found that intriguing. Is it because this medium is only “LEVEL ONE” that this genre of subject material isn’t being discussed here ?.. Or is it because this subject material isn’t really all that interesting.


Radio, I think you are right on point. To be honest I’m just gleaning information on the subject because I am keen. I’m a level one noob concerning this and I feel that there should be some here who know a good deal more about A.I. and Synthetic Intelligence than me so I thought I’d try a shot in the dark.

For me, “artificial intelligence” would imply a faux intelligence, “not real”, fabricated, “not genuine”, emulated, mimic, pretend intelligence etc. :slight_smile: SYNTHESIZED, on the other hand, would imply “made” , manufactured, cloned, produced, successfully DUPLICATED. It is funny how the same words can mean different things to different people and I suppose it is also academic as to why programmers use the language of numbers instead of words to communicate as numbers are so much more precise.

What you stated about synthetic intelligence only “seeming” that way is what concerns me. At the risk of reitaration I’m finding many of these great minds have every intention of manufacturing Cognitive awareness in a machine and I cannot help but to wonder that if they would succeed if it would be correct to call such an ‘entity’ a machine anymore. I see the label “BEAST” already being used in this discourse but is this really a fair and accurate term for a cognitive entity that very likely would or could have an intelligence level that would or could excell our own level of awareness exponentially? Hey, i’m just throwing bread upon the waters here. . . Trying to stimulate discussion as it were. Thank you for responding. Your contribution has helped me learn something new.


Even if it were true that our brains make decisions for us in advance we also have the option of resisting impulses and “changing our minds” so-to-speak. Admittedly, I haven’t read the article but it would seem that we all have some measure of choice. I don’t think any of us has absolute free reign however. This dude has some interesting insight:


I think it’s because it’s far beyond the scope of just technology. Like I said, there’s also physics, psychology, philosophy, and for some even religion involved in the subject. Technology in and of itself just concerns the substrate on which artificial intelligence will possibly develop.

To me that’s one of the more interesting aspects of all this. How much free will do we really have? How can we define free will to be a meaningful concept? What does that mean regarding artifiical intelligences and how we as an intelligent species relate to them, and they to us?

I’m not a fan of the argument by youtube videos, by the way. That’s a 1:12 hour video you linked there, that’s quite an investment of time for me. Can you describe what you find interesting about what he says in it?


Just a side note, I don’t adhere to this kind of mind-body duality at all, that’s why I put ‘your brain’ in quotations.
Basically, what I believe is that we, our consciousness, whatever you want to call it, are an emergent property of the hardware, our brains and bodies. If an analogy is needed, we’re bodies containing brains running software.