AI should be renamed

There are a lot of people who (presumably) have made good amounts of money talking up Artificial Intelligence technology. There are also some people who (presumably) have made respectable amounts of money tainting a fruitful discussion about AI by adding a fictional, almost mythological layer to it, that simply doesn’t exist. I am no expert in the field, nor would I consider myself part of the field, but I have read technical books about Deep Learning and Machine Learning (namely Deep Learning with Python and parts of Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow), to figure out if this is something I want to get into. It isn’t, but I argue that I have gathered enough insight into a fascinating field of software development to make the point that I am about to make.

When Joe Rogan asks Elon Musk about AI: “How far are we away from developing something that is really, truly sentient”, the answer shouldn’t be some cryptic dodging the question, it should be: “There is no consciousness at the end of the road that we are driving on with AI.” Because there isn’t.

Don’t misunderstand this, I am in no way doubting the powers of AI. I do not doubt for a second that AI is multiple times better in diagnosing heart disease than any human could ever be. I also have no problem believing that self-driving cars can be (or already are) much safer than the ones you drive yourself. I believe that AI is tremendously dangerous as it can lead to a new disastrous generation of weapons. I believe all of that is true, but here is where more people in the field need to draw the line: To suggest to the public (or – often more lucrative – to some gullible investors) that further development in this field will somehow result into a being that thinks for itself, has feelings similar to a human, has emotions similar to a human or to put it aptly: that it will result in something that experiences Being (in Heidegger sense), is always wrong, often a blatant lie and in some rare cases even straight-up fraud.

Marketable terms

The question is though: What even suggests to Joe Rogan, who I am using as a pars pro toto for the generally interested and curious part of the public, that this might be the case? The answer has to be: the name itself.

I think it’s save to say that if this particular technology would have been called anything else, something that doesn’t suggest connotations to Sci-Fi fans, nobody would ask that question. As the internet is cryptic in it’s information about who first called Machine Learning algorithms “Artificial Intelligence” and for what reason, I am not going to make any assumptions, but frankly, it doesn’t matter. The term today is used in a deceitful way that leads people to believe that humanity is well on it’s road to developing a piece of code that will question the purpose of it’s own existence, when in fact, we are not.

Advanced Statistical Evaluation

I am proposing a name change to “Advanced Statistical Evaluation”, because that is what AI really is. It is given huge mounts of data and it statistically evaluates it in a complexity far beyond human comprehension. You can then apply the things learned from this evaluation to new data sets. So naturally, if you feed it millions upon millions of data points about past heart decease patients it will be pretty good at figuring out new patients, based on the data they receive about them, but it isn’t a single step closer to feeling lonely, wondering if there is a color that has the redness of red, but the coolness of blue, or to developing other emotional qualities of a 19th century french poet.

Consider this: At some point in the (distant) future someone will actually crack the code to consciousness and sentience in our brain. Soon thereafter someone else will recreate the patterns we have learned using Python (and then someone else will rewrite in C just for fun). Or imagine any other way we might be able to develop an actual artificial intelligence. Then what? How do we name this so it makes sense, when it’s predestined name has already been taken by something that should have been called Advanced Statistical Evaluation.


Discussion is on Hacker News.