Artificial Intelligence is just artificial

Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Artificial Intelligence is just artificial

What if it’s all Artificial?

1983 Isaac Asimov was asked to predict the future. He did a pretty good job. Yet, the author of “I, Robot” did not predict artificial intelligence in our time.

In 1984 I left my formal computer education program at university over an argument with my professor. He professed that artificial intelligence was within our grasp, and it would be a revolution for students and their careers. I did not see it then, and I don’t see it now.

1984–2018. I have worked in and around computers my entire career. From punch cards, in the ’70s, to supercomputers today. I have programmed, hacked, cracked, designed, and architected some of the most advanced systems in use today. I have created medical devices, B2B e-commerce sites, high-security P2P encrypted message systems, cyber-security predictive analysts systems, and a whole lot more. Yet, I do not see anything more exotic than old fashion brute force computing.

2019. I took a fabulous course at SC19 on Quantum Computing this year from Scott Pakin and Eleanor G. Rieffel, hoping to learn new skills from the front lines of advanced research. Unfortunately, the only intelligence I found was in them. Computers, not so much.

2020+. There is no intelligence. Business leaders are often gravely misinformed of the promise, and the general public is afraid of the future. Remember, the Terminator movie happened in 2016.

So what? It’s useless and sometimes dangerous hype. We need a new term that does not scare and alienate people. Given my background, I am the IT department for my family and friends. Eventually, they ask me about two things; Cybersecurity and Artificial intelligence. Dinner conversations often end with confusion and fear about the future and their jobs. How soon will robots take our livelihood? Will there be universal income? What happens if they are hacked and crash the car/plane? That’s scary and dangerous.

Any intelligence, be it artificial, synthetic, augmented, cognitive, or any other euphemism, is still just a computing device. So why not just call it advanced computing? Check out this blog for fantastic insights, which brings us to autonomous computing.

We are currently at level 1.5. All my colleagues feel we are 5–10 years away from level 2. Some project us at 15 years apart. No one I know promotes self-driving cars or planes in our lifetimes. Even if we did, who would use them given the decades of missed expectations and fear?

Automation is critical. It saves lives. Who wants to clean up a nuclear disaster, recover black boxes from the bottom of the ocean, or program tedious and repetitive tasks on a windows computer? No one. How many robotic surgeries happened last year? 1 million. How many of those machines were run by a surgeon? 1 million. That’s why companies like Automation Anywhere help. But make no mistake. That is all Level 1 or 1.5 automation at best.

So what’s holding us back. It’s straightforward. Everything. Sure, we need aspirations and vision to lead people to the promised land. But we need to expectations with realistic steps so that when the solution comes, it will be accepted and not doubted. Every time a car must choose who to kill, humans will distrust the results. If a drone crashes into a house and burns it to the ground to save a cat on its crash trajectory, humans will doubt the results. When people see all the outtakes from Google’s robot program and laugh, humans will distrust the results. So why cause all this confusion?

The solution, hotly debated and likely not settled here, will be to reframe the argument and stop using “Artificial Intelligence.” It’s a lifetime away, and Automation is here to stay. So get on with the benefits of machine learning and forget intelligence. One day our grandchildren will look up to their teacher and wonder why we ever suffered through human substitutes. Field workers will supervise field automation systems, deep see rig inspectors will drink coffee while analyzing the data, and black boxes will have homing pigeons Automation to deliver them from a crash site. More than this, we will live lives that use our intelligence with the labor and safety robots provide.