WTF is AI?

Advertisement Cogito, ergo sum. We’ve all heard that famous assertion, foundation for a modern philosophy of self, consciousness, and individualism. But Descartes had it easy: for him, thought was self-evident — he didn’t have to define it. What is thought? What is intelligence? And can a machine be said to possess either? The field of artificial intelligence, it turns out, is as much about the questions as it is about the answers, and as much about how we think as whether the machine does. By way of illustration and introduction, consider this brief thought experiment. The Chinese Room Picture a locked room. Inside the room sit many people at desks. At one end of the room, a slip of paper is put through a slot, covered in strange marks and…


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