What do I want for Christmas? General Artificial Intelligence.

If you are interested in artificial intelligence (or even just philosophy) you’ll enjoy the discussion over at Neurdon.com and Ieee Spectrum about new computer chips that many researchers believe are a big step towards conscious computers.

Although it would take a miracle to see things pop this year, my view remains the same as it has been for some time – we tend to exaggerate the complexity of human thought and consciousnes, and machine  “self awareness” is probably more a function of the quantity of activity than the quality of activity.

Processor speeds and memory capacities are in some ways already “competitive” with capabilities of human brains, though it will likely take many more years of research to build the programs that can utilize these capacities effectively enough to duplicate most human-style thinking.

Evolution used simple tools and simple constructs to create complexity.   This is demonstrated especially well by some new research suggesting the importance of fractal geometry in biology, where very simple equations, acted out in the RNA and DNA code of plants and animals, effectively define certain conditions of life.  Examples are tree growth and a human heartbeat.

I’ll have a lot more about this debate at Technology Report where I’ll hope to have several more guest posts by the DARPA SyNAPSE researchers.