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Artifictional Intelligence: Against Humanity's Surrender to Computers

Artifictional Intelligence: Against Humanity's Surrender to Computers

Harry Collins

ISBN: 978-1-509-50415-2

Aug 2018, Polity

232 pages


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Recent startling successes in machine intelligence using a technique called ‘deep learning’ seem to blur the line between human and machine as never before. Are computers on the cusp of becoming so intelligent that they will render humans obsolete? Harry Collins argues we are getting ahead of ourselves, caught up in images of a fantastical future dreamt up in fictional portrayals. The greater present danger is that we lose sight of the very real limitations of artificial intelligence and readily enslave ourselves to stupid computers: the ‘Surrender’.

By dissecting the intricacies of language use and meaning, Collins shows how far we have to go before we cannot distinguish between the social understanding of humans and computers. When the stakes are so high, we need to set the bar higher: to rethink ‘intelligence’ and recognize its inherent social basis. Only if machine learning succeeds on this count can we congratulate ourselves on having produced artificial intelligence.

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  • Chapter 1. Computers in Social Life and the Danger of the ‘Surrender’
  • Chapter 2. Expertise and Writing about AI: Some Reflections on the Project
  • Chapter 3. Language and ‘Repair’
  • Chapter 4. Humans, Social Contexts and Bodies
  • Chapter 5. Six Levels of Artificial Intelligence
  • Chapter 6. Deep Learning: Precedent-Based, Pattern-Recognising Computers
  • Chapter 7. Kurzweil’s Brain and the Sociology of Knowledge
  • Chapter 8. How Humans Learn What Computers Can’t
  • Chapter 9. Two Models of Artificial Intelligence and the Way Forward
  • Chapter 10. The Editing Test and Other New Versions of the Turing Test
  • Appendix 1: How the Internet Works Today
  • Appendix 2: Little Dogs
‘In an age when heady promises and dark warnings from advocates of a fast-approaching “Technological Singularity” regularly make front-page news, this book offers timely words of caution.’ 
J. Mark Bishop, Director of the Tungsten Centre for Intelligent Data Analytics, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘By highlighting artificial intelligence’s fundamental failures, Professor Collins provides an overdue correction to "the market-driven urge to advertise its successes”. Authoritative and technically accurate, this book will be essential for students of AI, policy makers, business innovators and the broader public for many years.’ 
Alan Blackwell, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge

“[Harry Collins examines] pervasive existential fears over artificial intelligence and its perceived threat in the ‘deep learning’ era. Collins probes this idea trenchantly and in considerable detail. Pointing to computers’ inability to factor in social context, master natural language use well enough to pass a severe Turing test, or wield embodied cognition, he argues that the real danger we face is not a takeover by superior computers, but slavery to stupid ones.”
Barbara Kiser, Nature