Let's face it, artificial intelligence (AI) is a confused subject with the industry currently exaggerating its role, purpose and capabilities. We are all still scratching our heads wondering if the world will have to endure a society of robots with their associated "robot rights" and, of course, there's the fear that they may render humanity pointless. I want to continue with my own personal journey through what I understand AI is and how we might indeed one day create an artificial intelligent entity, something which I hope we don't live to regret. Nevertheless, my rhetoric has been consistent regarding what, today, we understand AI is and, that is, it's nothing more than clever programming and smart technology. But, in my endeavour to possibly create such an artificial intelligent entity, I suggested we use Cartesian dualism (René Descartes and George Campbell) as some sort of template where we separate the mind and body.
In last month's column, "Artificial intelligence: I think therefore I am?," I felt I only scratched the surface of what we understand to be artificial intelligence (AI) and, in this month's post, I want to expand my thoughts a little further. So, last month, I suggested that what we understand today as "AI" is nothing more than clever programming and smart technology and, I dare say, that's largely true, despite others suggesting otherwise. We don't have thinking machines, since software engineers have programmed our technology to behave in a pre-determined manner, along with predefined behaviors and outcomes. You may recall, over a bottle of red, I presented the philosophical conjecture provided by René Descartes and the Scottish philosopher George Campbell's work surrounding their rationale regarding the separation of the mind and body.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been bandied around for the last few decades or so and, I'm sure, most of us are still wondering: What exactly is this? So, will we be faced with an army of Terminator-like humanoids who will reign terror across the world? Will we witness "I, Robot"-like humanoids attending to our homecare needs – you know, washing, ironing, cooking and the like? Nah, I already have a wife that's dutifully doing that. Okay, stop – I know I shouldn't go there – just one small footnote though: My wife, Sarah, isn't remotely domesticated, although she does cook once in a while!
Despite years of research, our understanding of how the brain functions is still patchy -- at least compared to other organs in the human body. Take the cerebellum, for instance. Neuroscientists have long believed that this organ, which is located below the occipital and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex, was only responsible for maintenance of balance, posture and breathing, and for controlling motor functions. In recent years, however, there have been a few tantalizing hints that the cerebellum may be playing a much larger role. Now, a team of researchers has unearthed further details of what this larger function might be -- anticipating and responding to rewards, activities that are key drivers of behavior.
Neanderthals may have died out because they lacked part of the human brain that helps us adapt to change and be sociable. Our ancient cousins had less grey matter in an area vital for memory, thinking and communication skills, suggests a new study. This would have affected their social and cognitive abilities, and could have been a major factor in their demise, scientists said. Neanderthals would have been less able than humans to adapt to climate change by innovating, for example. Researchers scanned the skulls of Neanderthals to assess their brain matter.