26 November 2022

Alexa as an instance of "AI"... not.

I use an Amazon Alexa (more properly, an "Echo," which is the choice of how I prefer to address it). I know, I know, privacy violation and all that. But here's my impression. If you ask it what level of AI it is it says it doesn't understand the question. If you ask it which is smarter, it or a cockroach, it says, "Hmm. I don't know that." According to various sources on the web, Alexa is an instance of "weak AI." I reject that notion entirely. I ascribe to it no intelligence at all. It is merely a machine capable of executing relatively elaborate algorithms. It has no capability to divine meaning, interpolate or interpret concepts or complex sentences, or do anything other than respond to certain formulaic instructions and questions, and repeat certain information or "content" if adequately identified for it to locate it in a database. I classify this as moderately effective computing, but zero intelligence. I am, in fact, generally very, very skeptical about machine learning and intelligence, and even more skeptical about "machine consciousness," a verbal construction which as near as I can glean corresponds to no actual phenomenon currently in existence on this planet. 

I have my suspicions about whether machine consciousness is even possible, but one thing I am sure of is that the current efforts towards that goal are on entirely the wrong track. Computers do not work like biogenic brains, and so far, anyway, they display no evidence of internal experience or self-awareness. At all. I welcome anyone who can refer me to actual evidence to refute this assertion. 

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