The Natural Stupidity of Artificial Intelligence by A. Michael Noll

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The Natural Stupidity of Artificial Intelligence

A. Michael Noll

June 17, 2018

© Copyright 2018 AMN

Clearly, the future is coming, but at times we seem mostly to be chasing the past. Artificial intelligence is today’s “new” rage. But I think it is mostly hype and faith, coupled with a blind, and perhaps deliberate, ignorance of what was done decades ago.

In the 1960’s, digital computers were programmed and used at Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs) to “compose” music. Today the same algorithmic approach is called artificial intelligence. Digital computers were also programmed in the early 1960s at Bell Labs to create art. And today this too is called artificial intelligence. Back then decades ago, the intelligence was the human who wrote the program and also the human who chose which computer-generated music and art was most liked.

A modern jetliner can fly itself. But is this artificial intelligence, or simply computer control following algorithms? The human pilots are just there to take over in case of an emergency.

What is “artificial intelligence?” “Artificial” means false, fake, not natural. “Intelligence” is the ability to process information and then to perform appropriate actions. It seems to imply some sort of innate human ability. Clearly, a machine is not human and thus cannot possess human qualities, such as intelligence. The “intelligence” of a machine consists of programmed algorithms that the machine carries out. It is not a human quality – it is fake.

I am reminded of decades ago when we were told that the human brain was like a digital computer, and that neurons rather than bits were involved. Well, this theory went nowhere and the human brain is still much of a mystery. There was decades ago the computer program ELIZA created by Joseph Weizenbaum that could act as a psychotherapist.* Weizenbaum explored in his book the human fascination with autonomous machines. – and this was over four decades ago. I expressed concern in 1961 about computers that could learn and act.**

Today there clearly is considerable hype and publicity being given to artificial intelligence. It promises much, but seems mostly to attract investors and big companies that hope to cash in on it all (or the next “new” thing). The ignorance of what went on in the past, coupled with the lust of greed, is the natural stupidity of artificial intelligence.

Notes

* Joseph Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason, W. H. Freeman and Company (New York), 1976.

** A. Michael Noll, “Electronic Computer – Friend or Foe?” the Orbit, Vol. 5, No.3 (March 1961), Newark College of Engineering, pp. 8 & 16.

A. Michael Noll

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The Innovation Garden by A. Michael Noll

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May 21st, 2018

The Innovation Garden

A. Michael Noll

May 20, 2018

© Copyright 2018 AMN

Long before Silicon Valley invaded California, there was an “Innovation Garden” flourishing in New Jersey. Which easily qualified as the Invention State.

Thomas A. Edison and his laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey cemented New Jersey’s role in innovation. Many smaller manufactures of electrical equipment became located in New Jersey, all wit their on innovations. RCA Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey was formed in 1942 and a host of inventions resulted, including color television.

One of the more famous R&D facilities in New Jersey was Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. (Bell Labs). The freedom to take risk, coupled with a proximity to practical problems, characterized Bell Labs. These factors are today associated with Silicon Valley, but were present decades before at Bell Labs and the other R&D facilities located in New Jersey. The very “silicon” in Silicon Valley came from William Shockley, one of the inventors of the transistor at Bell Labs who later went to California.

New Jersey is known as the Garden State, but it also should be credited as being an early “Innovation Garden.”

The story of Bell Labs, from my personal perspectives, can be downloaded at: http://quello.msu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Memories-Noll.pdf

Book Cover featuring Bell Labs

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The 50-Year Telecommunications Explosion

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November 21st, 2017


Download the PDF

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Digital Archive of James Quello’s Papers

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The Quello Center is off and running in creating a digital archive of James H. Quello’s papers. Our archive team includes myself, having never created such an archive, plus Anne Marie Salter at the Center, Valeta Winsloff from Media and Information who supports our design work and blogging, Scout Calvert with the MSU Library, who is orchestrating this project, and Lauren E. Lincoln-Chavez, who has hands on experience in developing archives and special collections, and is based in Detroit.

The collection contains over 1,000 papers, including speeches, statements, letters, and remarks by James Quello during his long tenure as an FCC Commissioner. To this we will be adding our collection of photographs, and videos, as well as photos of his many awards and honors. This promises to be another of the many fun and rewarding projects of the Center.

The archive will be part of our WordPress blog and publicly accessible to anyone who might want a view of over two decades at the FCC through the words of one of its longest serving and most colorful commissioners. I read one of his papers from 1974 saying the he is willing to forgive journalists for getting things wrong at times (before there was a term ‘fake news’) in order to protect freedom of the press, and I imagine he would say the same thing about the users of social media today.

Generally, sifting through this collection is addictive as you follow the history of such issues as the fairness doctrine, cross-ownership rules, and more. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

LtoR: Aleks, Bill, Valeta, Anne Marie, Lauren, Scout

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