Being. Important?

I’m enjoying a pair of fried eggs over melted swiss cheese, on top of a slice of my home-made bread. I’m thinking about why the artificial intelligence crowd seems different to me. Different, that is, from all the other ‘crowds’ of idealists who search for ‘meaning’ in our lives.

I often read there’s a distinction between the ‘instinctive’  behavior of animals and the thoughtful approach we ourselves take. But I think the many efforts to identify meaning from within ourselves, with all the high language and ironic half-smiles, have similar results, empirically assessed, to not thinking at all. From the outside, given our consistent inabilities to change ourselves, we might as well be armadillos.

Some of us are fascinated with ‘consciousness’ – with ‘self-awareness’ – as if it’s special. Of course, since we’re the ones making it up, we can never tie down exactly what it is. The artificial intelligence people couldn’t give a hoot. They’ve defined ‘intelligence’ as the behavior of any rational agent. That is, if you place a phone call to a machine, and you can’t tell it’s a machine – it’s intelligent.

‘Consciousness’ is just another aspect of intelligence, which exists in its outward appearance – it gets measured. The AI people took ‘identity,’ stopped obsessing on it, and started building varieties of their own. In so doing, they’ve begun creating things that look a lot like us. The difference is: they’ve got a handle on what they’ve wrought.

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