Intelligence, Credulity, and Charity in the Age of AI

Alan Jacobs in The Hedgehog Review:

William Hasselberger, writing in The New Atlantis, offers a thoughtful assessment of computer scientist and tech entrepeneur Erik J. Larson’s recent book The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do. Hasselberger’s reflection is more than a review; it is a useful contribution to the debate over whether artificial general intelligence is likely to be achieved. And it raises vital questions.

Hasselberger, philosopher and politics professor at Catholic University of Portugal, admires Larson’s book but insists that “while the critique of AI hype points us in the right direction, it is not radical enough. For Larson is fixated on intelligence’s logical aspects”—but “in defending the human in this way he misses the broader picture.” Hasselberger approaches that “broader picture” by reflecting on what it means for human beings to converse. Extending Larson’s argument, he points out that the definition of intelligence generally operative in the world of AI research “ignores the reflective aspect of human intelligence—how we discover, imagine, question, and commit to our objectives in the first place, the judgments we make about which objectives really matter in life, and which are trivialities, distractions, irrational cravings. The constricted definition of intelligence also ignores activities with no objective, forms of human mental life that we do for their own sake, like free-ranging conversation.”

More here.