Special Issue "AI AND THE SINGULARITY: A FALLACY OR A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?"

A special issue of Information (ISSN 2078-2489). This special issue belongs to the section "Information Theory and Methodology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Robert K. Logan

Department of Physics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George, Toronto, ON M5S 1A7, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Interests: media ecology; systems biology; linguistics; AI
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Adriana Braga

Department of Social Communication at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ), Brazil
Website | E-Mail
Interests: technology; gender; pragmatism; phenomenology; psychoanalysis; media studies; social interaction; ethnography

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are putting together a Special Issue on the notion of the technological Singularity, the idea that computers will one day be smarter that their human creators. Articles that are both in favour of and against the Singularity are welcome, but the lead article by the Guest Editors Bob Logan and Adrianna Braga is quite critical of the notion. Here is the abstract of their paper, The Emperor of Strong AI Has no Clothes: Limits to Artificial Intelligence.

Abstract: We argue that the premise of the technological Singularity, based on the notion that computers will one day be smarter that their human creators, is false, making use of the techniques of media ecology. We also analyze the comments of other critics of the Singularity, as well those of supporters of this notion. The notion of intelligence that advocates of the technological Singularity promote does not take into account the full dimension of human intelligence. They treat artificial intelligence as a figure without a ground. Human intelligence, as we will show, is not based solely on logical operations and computation, but also includes a long list of other characteristics, unique to humans, which is the ground that supporters of the Singularity ignore. The list includes curiosity, imagination, intuition, emotions, passion, desires, pleasure, aesthetics, joy, purpose, objectives, goals, telos, values, morality, experience, wisdom, judgment, and even humor.

Prof. Dr. Robert K. Logan
Prof. Dr. Adriana Braga
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Information is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • singularity
  • computers
  • information processing
  • AI (artificial intelligence)
  • human intelligence
  • curiosity
  • imagination
  • intuition
  • emotions
  • goals
  • values
  • wisdom

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Can Computers Become Conscious, an Essential Condition for the Singularity?
Information 2017, 8(4), 161; doi:10.3390/info8040161
Received: 12 November 2017 / Revised: 3 December 2017 / Accepted: 6 December 2017 / Published: 9 December 2017
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Abstract
Given that consciousness is an essential ingredient for achieving Singularity, the notion that an Artificial General Intelligence device can exceed the intelligence of a human, namely, the question of whether a computer can achieve consciousness, is explored. Given that consciousness is being aware
[...] Read more.
Given that consciousness is an essential ingredient for achieving Singularity, the notion that an Artificial General Intelligence device can exceed the intelligence of a human, namely, the question of whether a computer can achieve consciousness, is explored. Given that consciousness is being aware of one’s perceptions and/or of one’s thoughts, it is claimed that computers cannot experience consciousness. Given that it has no sensorium, it cannot have perceptions. In terms of being aware of its thoughts it is argued that being aware of one’s thoughts is basically listening to one’s own internal speech. A computer has no emotions, and hence, no desire to communicate, and without the ability, and/or desire to communicate, it has no internal voice to listen to and hence cannot be aware of its thoughts. In fact, it has no thoughts, because it has no sense of self and thinking is about preserving one’s self. Emotions have a positive effect on the reasoning powers of humans, and therefore, the computer’s lack of emotions is another reason for why computers could never achieve the level of intelligence that a human can, at least, at the current level of the development of computer technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AI AND THE SINGULARITY: A FALLACY OR A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Emperor of Strong AI Has No Clothes: Limits to Artificial Intelligence
Information 2017, 8(4), 156; doi:10.3390/info8040156
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 20 November 2017 / Accepted: 22 November 2017 / Published: 27 November 2017
PDF Full-text (266 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Making use of the techniques of media ecology we argue that the premise of the technological Singularity based on the notion computers will one day be smarter that their human creators is false. We also analyze the comments of other critics of the
[...] Read more.
Making use of the techniques of media ecology we argue that the premise of the technological Singularity based on the notion computers will one day be smarter that their human creators is false. We also analyze the comments of other critics of the Singularity, as well supporters of this notion. The notion of intelligence that advocates of the technological singularity promote does not take into account the full dimension of human intelligence. They treat artificial intelligence as a figure without a ground. Human intelligence as we will show is not based solely on logical operations and computation, but also includes a long list of other characteristics that are unique to humans, which is the ground that supporters of the Singularity ignore. The list includes curiosity, imagination, intuition, emotions, passion, desires, pleasure, aesthetics, joy, purpose, objectives, goals, telos, values, morality, experience, wisdom, judgment, and even humor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue AI AND THE SINGULARITY: A FALLACY OR A GREAT OPPORTUNITY?)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Metaphysics of Artificial Intelligence
Author: Adriana Braga
Abstract: This article discusses the metaphysical aspects of Artificial Intelligence theories, departing from the Cartesian dualism. Two ideas permeate the social imaginary regarding digital technologies: that of a utopian (or dystopic) modernity, in which machines will become progressively “intelligent” for the improvement (or domination) of human beings; And the second, according to which human bodies are natural “machines”. The philosophical matrix of this dual conception of the “human machine” and the “machinic human” can be traced back to Descartes. Through the Cartesian nexus - the conception of the human being as the connection between a physical entity (the body) and a distinct metaphysical entity (the mind) - a quasi-religious form of representation of science is based, as in the fictional images of robots and AI computers.
Keywords: Philosophy of Technology; Technopoly; Artificial Intelligence; Metaphysics.

Title: Memories and time out of place
Author: Clarisse Fukelman
Abstract: This paper approaches the topics of affection, proximity communication and the singularization of subjectivity through the interpretation of texts by two Brazilian authors, Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) and Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987), given the impact of technological development placed by the space conquest and information technologies between the 1960s and the 1970s. Both authors report to the technological advances of their time ("computational machine" or "komunikansia/interplanetary interpathetic") in order to confront other human dimensions, raising issues of power, colonialism and ecology; on the breech between reason and imagination; and on a new rethoric associated to the cybernetic machine (Barthes). Thus, literature participates on the discussions on the theory of communications on the 20th Century.

Title: AI, Technological Singularity and Death
Author: Jose Carlos Rodrigues
Abstract: My contribution to the debate on AI and technological singularity considers the propositions of the so-called 'transhumanism'. I do not intend to contest the prophecies or the chronologies of future outcomes posed by their enthusiasts. Departing from my anthropological studies on the role of death in human societies, I intend to discuss some probable - or possible - economic, political and social consequences that may occur in the case that the transhumanist prophecies come true.

Title: THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE OF 'ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE'.
Author: Rod Watson
Abstract: This brief paper will sketch the assumptions that must be made in order to claim that 'Artificial Intelligence' (AI) expresses human intelligence and that computer-driven AI will, in the future, operationally improve upon and even supercede human intelligence. The view advocated in this paper largely (though not exclusively) reflects arguments to be found in the sociological approaches of Ethnomethodology (EM) and Conversation (al) Analysis (CA), and especially the determinations of those approaches that are informed by the later work of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein himself, of course, discussed the notion of machines 'thinking', as have those following up his discussion.
Instead of looking at AI as a single concept in vacuo, this paper will adopt the approach to concepts employed by Erving Goffman and Harvey Sacks, each in his own way. Following their general guidelines, this will involve, for instance, converting a one-concept issue (AI alone) into a two-concept issue (AI + the Computational Model of the Human Mind). These two concepts will (following Sacks' term used in another context) will be shown to form a 'pair', and, it will be argued, such a pairing is implied in AI proponents' own, varyingly implicit, conception of their work. The work of Wittgensteinian EM and CA is to draw out, raise into view and explicitly discuss any implicitness in this conceptual pairing, and terms such as 'lebenswelt pairs' (Eric Livingston) will be brought in to assist in this process.
The 'AI-Computational Model of Mind' lebenswelt pair of concepts and the work that is built on this pair will be described as a 'hermeneutic' one, operating akin to the working of a hermeneutic circle, with each concept reciprocally defining and determining the other in a back-and forth manner, and thus in a tautological, sealed-off way. This process will be shown to resemble that of what F.C.Crews calls 'theoreticism' – a self privileging theorisation of the issue that is, in its own terms, impervious to disconfirmation.
How, then, can we seek to launch a disconfirmation of those proponents of AI who employ this lebenswelt pair? The only way is not to play the AI game in its own, conveniently self-confirming, terms. For instance, one can challenge the cognitivistic conception of human mind, and therefore of intelligence, that the second of these concepts employs-information processing, etc. In particular, we can challenge the allegedly unitary, context-free, non-praxiological, methodologically individualist (mutatis mutandis) nature of this conception of mind, and we can challenge also the reductionist nature of this conception. Moreover, to adapt a quip by Wittgenstein, an additional problem with the 'AI -Mind/Intelligence' lebenswelt pair is that in it, language goes on holiday, or at least arrives too late. In some cases too, one can challenge a further reduction that this AI conception of mind affords, namely the attempt to map the various operations of mind as conceived by AI proponents onto the anatomical structures and physiological processings of the brain-a move which, if permitted to go unchallenged, surely threatens the very existence of the social sciences and much of psychology too. Such a reduction is usually termed 'physicalism' or 'materialism'.
Some of this challenge by EM/CA will include questioning the focus of AI on the 'einzelindividuum', i.e., its methodological individualism. Part of the challenge will involve a modification of John Searle's (and likeminded philosophers') arguments about AI. Another part will comprise a critique questioning the characterisation of the purportedly unitary nature of human mind/intelligence as formulated by proponents of AI, and an EM/CA characterisation of mind/intelligence will be adduced by way of viable, empirically-grounded, contrast. For EM and CA, mind, as shown in intelligences, can be seen as pluralistic, as situated, as collaborative, and as multifarious, lodged in what Wittgenstein termed various 'forms of life', and in contexts within those forms, and thus intelligences are not amenable to description in terms of a single, universal standard imposed by the analyst. In this way, intelligences may be conceived as part of the intersubjective world, where parties to a social setting make sense, setting-sensitive sense, of that setting and do so collaboratively. In this and so many other respects, language practices, deployed collectively in situated social interaction, are central to intelligence or to making sense of a given setting: they must be analysed as primary, as doing constitutive work.
If this more naturalistic conception of intelligences be propounded, then the claims of AI for both the present and the future are undermined. If AI cannot be credibly conceived as modelling actual mind and intelligences, then the plethora of promissory notes issued daily by its proponents can be seen to be fakery.

Author: Alex Webb
Abstract: This paper will argue that the question of a technological Singularity is misplaced, revealing anthropocentric biases towards cognition. The social constructs that frame the capacities of a technological Singularity as “more” or “less” than human intelligence are the very ones impeding the development of artificial intelligence (AI), preventing us from both recognizing existing forms of computational cognition as well as constraining our augmentation of it. Computational intelligence is radically different than our own, to the degree that we cannot recognize certain forms of cognition that could be radically productive. When we consider the many global issues of climate change and material use in which computation could assist, our collective bias towards our own cognitive structures are not simply arresting the development of AI, they are dangerous to a planetary degree.
This paper will examine the theories of Benjamin Bratton, Neil Leach, as well as roboticists Rodney Brooks and Hod Lipson; ultimately arguing that it is the notion of a singularity that subverts the development of AI itself.

Title: Is ‘Intelligence’ Needed for the ‘Singularity’? (A journey from science fiction to science fact)
Author: Vic Grout
Affiliation: Professor of Computing Futures, Wrexham Glyndŵr University, North Wales, UK
Correspondence: ; Tel.: +44 1978 293203
Abstract: It seems to be accepted that intelligence – artificial or otherwise – and ‘the singularity’ are inseparable concepts: ‘The singularity’ will apparently arise from AI reaching a, supposedly particular – but actually poorly-defined, level of sophistication; and an empowered combination of hardware and software will take it from there (and take over from us). But such wisdom and debate are simplistic in a number of ways: firstly, this is a poor definition of the singularity; secondly, it muddles various notions of intelligence; thirdly, competing arguments are rarely based on shared axioms so are frequently pointless; fourthly, our models for trying to discuss these concepts at all are often inconsistent, and finally, our attempts at describing any ‘post-singularity’ world are almost always limited by anthropomorphism. In all of these respects, professional ‘futurists’ often appear as confused as storytellers, who might be argued to have greater licence: so perhaps that becomes a reasonable place to start. Using examples from science fiction to illustrate various assumptions behind the AI/singularity debate, this essay discusses a number of possible futures based on different underlying philosophies. Although properly grounded in science, it eventually looks beyond the technology for answers and, ultimately, beyond the Earth itself.

Title: Conceptions of Artificial (General) Intelligence and Singularity
Author: Pei Wang
Abstract: In the current discussions about "artificial intelligence" and "singularity", both labels are used with several very different senses, and the confusion among these senses is the root of many disagreements. Similarly, though "artificial general intelligence" (AGI) has become a frequently mentioned term in the related discussions, many people are not really familiar with this research, including its aim and status. In this article, we will clarify the relevant notions, as well as introduce the results of our project in artificial general intelligence. Our conclusion is that it is possible to build a computer system that follows the same "laws of thought" and shows very similar properties as the human mind, but since it will have neither a human body nor human experience, it will not behave exactly like a human. Such a system can be considered as fully intelligent, as far as intelligence is not defined with an anthropocentric bias. If an AGI can be fully developed with the expected features, it means we do have a good understanding of the general mechanism of intelligence, so the system's behaviors will still be understandable and predictable in principle. Therefore, the success of AGI will not necessarily lead to a singularity beyond which the future becomes completely incomprehensible and uncontrollable.

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