AI, Artificial Intelligence, is on our minds.
HAL, the malfunctioning AI from 2001: A Space Odyssey that needed to be shut down.
Skynet, the self-aware AI in The Terminator that engaged in genocide to survive.
The Matrix, AI that has judged humans as viruses and use them as copper-top batteries.
And on The Blacklist, an AI crunches the numbers, decides that IT’S the biggest threat to humankind. It digitally contracts the killings of its makers, and then commits suicide.
Wikipedia has 141 films listed as either having AI as a protagonist, or at least an important part of the film.
Clearly, AI is on our minds.
The human world is complex. One of the biggest growing needs of employers is bringing in people who can conceptualize, who can analyze, who can think.
These people are knowledge workers.
But many problems are too big even for knowledge workers.
- Doctors who analyze MRI output can miss clues.
- Systems like the stock market have too many variables.
- Some problems just have too much data.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could have a system that we could input all our data into it, and it would come up with exactly the right answer?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just ask for and believe the answer for how to live our lives?
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we didn’t have to think so much?
I get a headache trying to figure out this damn world. Hell, it’s hard to tell if people calling me are actually legitimate. Not counting the Car Warranty folks. They are clearly fraudulent.
Things are moving too fast. We are learning at an exponential rate. It’s overwhelming.
We need help.
The question is: Are humans the right ones to create AI?
Ignoring the fact that, so far, humans are the only ones who could create AI, should humans create AI at all?
There is this assumption that because we humans seem to be at the top of the brain train for intelligence, that it follows that we are actually intelligent.
Let’s unpack this guy.
There are two types of intelligence:
- The Intellect
Both types come from a particular point of view and there are levels to each.
The intellect is an internal intelligence. It’s the way we think, inside our noodles.
The Factually Oriented Intellect concerns itself with facts, terminology, and specific knowledge of how to do things, or how it works.
The person who can remember a bunch of esoteric facts and dates is an example of this. So is the developer who knows Java but is most comfortable with clear instructions and a clear design.
The Conceptually Oriented intellect concerns itself with concepts, systems, and why something works.
This is the person who, once they know why and how to do a thing, can extrapolate to other related but different things. An example of this is a mechanic who understands cars so well that they can easily go from fixing an old Volkswagen Bug to fixing a Volkswagen Jetta. Another example is a database administrator who understands databases so well that it no longer matters what database they are working on.
Smarts is an external intelligence. It helps us navigate the world of people. And if you have ever had to deal with someone who is stuck in The Intellect, you know that Smarts are the most important intelligence, even if not as respected.
The first level of Smarts is Survival. It’s the most primitive form of smarts and one that many people in first world countries never develop.
The question here is: what do I have to do to survive?
In the old days, it was a matter of protection, shelter, and food. If you needed something, you hit someone over the head and took it.
We can still see this now in the way we humans treat each other. It’s very hard to pull someone out of Survival. They automatically assume it’s a trick to get over on them.
Street Smarts is knowing the rules of the environment you’re in. It may be the city of Compton. It may be a boarding school in France. It may be your workplace.
Knowing the rules, the power structure, and finding allies is the game here. It’s The Hunger Games.
This is where most humans live in terms of Smarts. We all belong to different groups or need things from organizations. We have to adjust and compromise. We need to make friends.
We also see the fallout of this type of Smarts in the form of biases, prejudices, judgments, and many -isms. We tend to have enough Intellect to find ways to justify it all.
This is where we are trying to get to. We are trying to get beyond Survival and Street Smarts to become better people who make better decisions who make the world a better place.
Here we see literature and research into Social Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence. We can learn about why we humans do what we do, and what we can do to counteract it.
The fallout of this activity is that the people living in Survival or Street Smarts can also read the literature and use it to attain their own goals.
Are we really as intelligent as we think we are?
The problem is that there is very little possibility that there is a human who has a huge Intellect who is also living in Social Smarts.
But it’s those Big Intellect humans who are programming AI.
They may be thinking logically and philosophically, but there is another assumption to AI:
We also want our AI to have our human interests at its core.
Most of the AI stories and films out there are cautionary tales about what would happen to humans if AI thought logically. After all, humans are pretty awful. We can do great things, but usually it only benefits humans.
How can a human with a Big Intellect, but with very little Smarts, be trusted with AI?
I started out in Survival. I had an absent father and an alcoholic mother who loved chasing cowboys. We often didn’t have toilet paper or food in the house. I learned to steal. I also didn’t have any Street Smarts, so I tended to be isolated.
Because I didn’t know what else to do with myself, I joined the Navy. It was there I discovered that I had an Intellect. Not Factually Oriented, I can’t remember names and dates, or who wrote what. No, I was Conceptually Oriented.
I held onto to that like a lifeline. It was my way of having a place in the world. I went to college and studied Philosophy and Religious Studies along with many other topics. I’m 57 years old and I’ve never quit studying. It’s my favorite thing.
But as the last decade, especially the last two years, have proved, when it comes to Smarts.
I’m a dumbass.
I can read Daniel Pink and understand cognitive biases. I can read books about emotional intelligence. I can understand intellectually. But for the life of me I don’t know how to apply it.
So, I’m going to take some time and try to figure out some Smarts. This is going to be brutal, I just know it.
Point is, if I’m having this kind of trouble and I just have a Baby Intellect, what kind of problems are the Big Intellects having? Do they even know they have a problem?
Because humans have not advanced enough to have both a Big Intellect AND Social Smarts, any AI that would be developed would reflect that lack. It would be like trying to create a god in our own image, with all of our failings and biases.
We’re not ready for AI.
And really, look how it’s used now? When I bought a portable AC unit from Amazon, I got ads and suggestions for other portable AC units. Like I need a variety.
We’ve got a long way to go.