Your visual cortex does two incredible things, thousands of times a second. First, it takes all the information streaming in through your retinas and passes it through a series of steps – looking first for patches of dark and light, then for features such as lines and edges, then for simple recognisable shapes like this letter'A', working up to household objects like a toaster or kettle, or individual faces, like your grandmother, or the person who you used to see every day at the bus stop on the way to work. The second incredible thing it does is to completely forget that it's done any of that at all. The inner workings of our minds are not accessible to us – and that is one of the things that will always separate us from artificially intelligent machines like the ones depicted in Klara and the Sun, the new novel from British author Kazuo Ishiguro. The book is set in a near-future where robotic humanoids called'Artificial Friends' or'AFs' are the purchase of choice for wealthy teenagers, who – for unspecified reasons – are taught remotely, and rarely get the opportunity to interact with their peers face to face.
Mar-3-2021, 14:30:07 GMT