Jaron Lanier: Fighting the Singularity08-09-2010
Jaron Lanier has quickly established himself as the most important opponent of the Singularity crowd. A silicon valley entrepreneur and one of the original pioneers of virtual reality, Lanier is hardly a Luddite. Yet he has been writing clear and provocative prose raising serious questions about the humanity of current trends on the internet and in society.
His op-ed in the NY Times today is a case in point. He is clear that most of what goes by the name AI is less intelligent and more simply a technological achievement. Yet, by calling it Artificial Intelligence, we demean and dumb down what we mean by intelligence. He writes:
What bothers me most about this trend, however, is that by allowing artificial intelligence to reshape our concept of personhood, we are leaving ourselves open to the flipside: we think of people more and more as computers, just as we think of computers as people.
He offers as an example NYU Professor Clay Shirky, who suggests that when people forward tweets around and "re-Tweet," this displays real thought and creativity--although not amongst humans but in a global brain. It is this kind of anti-humanism that Lanier is so trenchant at unveiling.
I review his most recent book, You Are Not a Gadget, here.
Read his Times Op-Ed Here