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First written: ; last update: Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform the world later this century.I expect this transition will be a "soft takeoff" in which many sectors of society update together in response to incremental AI developments, though the possibility of a harder takeoff in which a single AI project "goes foom" shouldn't be ruled out.This led me to be confused about what "free will" meant until mid-2008 and about what "consciousness" meant until late 2009.Cognitive science showed me that the brain was in fact very much like a computer, at least in the sense of being a deterministic information-processing device with distinct algorithms and modules.So the singularity idea of artificial general intelligence seemed less crazy than it had initially.This was one of the rare cases where a bold claim turned out to look more probable on further examination; usually extraordinary claims lack much evidence and crumble on closer inspection.
"AI programs are just a bunch of hacks," I thought.
In the face of epistemic disagreements with other very smart observers, it makes sense to grant some credence to a variety of viewpoints.
Each person brings unique contributions to the discussion by virtue of his or her particular background, experience, and intuitions.
Like with most ideas, there's a lot of fantasy and exaggeration associated with "the singularity," but at least the core idea that technology will progress at an accelerating rate for some time to come, absent major setbacks, is not particularly controversial.
Exponential growth is the standard model in economics, and while this can't continue forever, it has been a robust pattern throughout human and even pre-human history.