We live in an incredible period in history. The Computer Revolution may be even more life-changing than the Industrial Revolution. We can do things with computers that could never be done before, and computers can do things for us that never could be done before. I am addicted to computers and you may be, too. But we shouldn’t let our love of computers cloud our recognition of their limitations. Yes, computers know more facts than we do. Yes, computers have better memories than we do. Yes, computers can make calculations faster than we can. Yes, computers do not get tired like we do. Robots far surpass humans at repetitive, monotonous tasks like tightening bolts, planting seeds, searching legal documents, and accepting bank deposits and dispensing cash. Computers can recognize objects, draw pictures, drive cars. You can surely think of a dozen other impressive— even superhuman—computer feats. It is tempting to think that because computers can do some things extremely well, they must be highly intelligent. However, being useful for specific tasks is very different from having a general intelligence that applies the lessons learned and skills required for one task to more complex tasks or to completely different tasks. With true intelligence, skills are portable. Computers are great and getting better, but computer algorithms are still designed to have the very narrow capabilities needed to perform well-defined chores, not the general intelligence needed to deal with unfamiliar situations by assessing what is happening, why it is happening, and what the consequences are of taking action. Humans can apply general knowledge to specific situations and use specific situations to improve their general knowledge. Computers today cannot. Artificial intelligence is not at all like the real intelligence that comes from human brains. Computers do not know what words mean because computers do not experience the world the way we do. They do not even know what the real world is. Computers do not have the common sense or wisdom that humans accumulate by living life. Computers cannot formulate persuasive theories. Computers cannot do inductive reasoning or make long-run plans.
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