When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

Why Artificial Intelligence Is Simply Impossible

The very essence of intelligence is that it's human, and can never be recreated by something artificial.

Why Artificial Intelligence Is Simply Impossible
Luc de Brabandere

-Op-Ed-


BRUSSELS — At a primary school, young children were asked to complete the following sentence: "The cat has … legs and the bird … ." Conscientiously, the pupils filled in the blanks with the numbers four and two. That is, all but one of them, who instead wrote, "The cat has pain in his legs and the bird is sad about it."

Does that one student's answer indicate that he is somehow less intelligent than the rest? Of course not. For sure, he has a different intelligence, one that's more unusual. He doesn't think in the same way as the rest of his classmates, but that doesn't mean he doesn't think just as well, or even better.

So-called "intelligence" tests offer little information about actual intellectual capacity. It's a bit like trying to estimate the value of a house by looking at what's in the fridge. These tests date from a time when intelligence was for the most part limited to the logical and mathematical ability to calculate, rank, extrapolate or deduce. IQ is far from the perfect measure of intelligence because there are many kinds of intelligence. Intelligence is like blood type: There isn't any that's better than the rest, but some are more commonly shared. The question of one individual's level of intelligence therefore matters less than that the type of intelligence.

Thankfully, since the 1980s and the emergence of work from academics such as American psychologist Howard Gardner, the plurality of intelligences and the necessity to combine them are no longer contested. Even better is that there are now many theories about the many forms of intelligence! Gardner himself has had to add one to his original list.

In addition to deduction, and mathematical and logical capabilities, there are, among others: musical intelligence (sensitive to sounds and rhythms), bodily intelligence (which frees up the full potential of all body parts), relational or emotional intelligence (the ability to identify the feelings and intentions of others), visual intelligence (which enables us to visualize before we build something and move objects into space), and language intelligence (the ability to think with words).

[rebelmouse-image 27089675 alt="""" original_size="1024x683" expand=1]

Unbeatable at table tennis, though — Photo: Global panorama

Almost none of these functions can be programmed so that a machine could carry them out. A computer can recognize a face, but it can't find it beautiful. A computer has memory, but it can't have memories. It can produce images, but it doesn't have any imagination. A computer can learn from its mistakes, but it cannot regret them. It can compare ideas, but it cannot have an idea.

What we call "intelligence" isn't a unique ability, but instead a set of skills, innate or acquired, that requires from us both to know and to ignore, to become emotional and to be detached, to ask questions and to answer. These skills are inseparable from surprises, sensations, intuition, laughter.

The very essence of intelligence is that it's human and that it can't be recreated by something artificial. If it became artificial, it would mean that we'd have given up on using our own. But the topic is raised again and again in the media. As soon as a computer defeats a human being at one game or another, the myth that artificial intelligence will become part of our lives is resurrected.

Computers can free us from many tedious chores, but that doesn't mean they'll make us free. They can help us foresee but not want. They can help us find information, but they won't tell us what to look for. They can analyze the way things are headed, but they can't understand what it means.

*Luc de Brabandere is a Belgian-born mathematician and senior advisor at the Paris office of Boston Consulting Group.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

How Airbnb Created A Homeless Crisis In An Idyllic Australian Town

In the bohemian Australian seaside town of Byron Bay, rents are now higher than Sydney or Melbourne. And as Airbnb takes its toll, this small town has almost as many homeless people as Sydney.

Byron Bay became a tourist attraction at the turn of the 1970s

Grégory Plesse

BYRON BAY — It's a scene that is repeated almost every evening. Small groups form on the seafront, some take out a guitar around an improvised campfire among the rocks, a few acrobats hypnotize passers-by by twirling fiery bolas, and most clink glasses over a few beers, modestly covered by paper bags. They are all there to admire the sun setting behind the mountains bordering the northern tip of the beach, which stretches for about 30 kilometers, tinting the sky with shades ranging from pale pink to scarlet red.

Located at the eastern tip of Australia, an ideal geographical position where very beautiful waves are formed, Byron Bay, in New South Wales, is one of the most popular destinations for surfers. It is also home to one of the oldest surf clubs in the country, created more than a century ago, in 1907.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ