Alchemy and AI

Posted on Aug 18, 2022

There is this legendary paper by Hubert Dreyfus; it’s a critique on AI written back in 1965. Quite a bit of what is in the paper would not make sense today (as we have somewhat addressed the games and language challenges), but I think the comment that stands out is:

Alchemists were so successful in distilling quicksilver from what seemed to be dirt, that after several hundred years of fruitless effort to convert lead into gold they still re- fused to believe that on the chemical level one cannot transmute metals. To avoid the fate of the alchemists, it. is time we asked where we stand. Now, before we invest more time and money on the information-processing level, we should ask whether the protocols of human subjects suggest that com- puter language is appropriate for analyzing human behavior. Is an exhaustive analysis of human intelligent behavior into discrete and determinate operations possible? Is an approximate analysis of human intelligent behavior in such digital terms probable? The answer to both these questions seems to be, ‘‘No."

Not sure if the answer is no, but the if we are to assume our current paradigm is wrong, what’s next? Deeper neuroscience? Reflecting on contemporary philosophy?