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FleshFactor: Re: re: Intelligent Software

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

Grayson Cooke wrote: 

>Another issue:  Pattie, you talk of the 'millions of untrained users' as a
>force that must be (almost militaristically) mobilized and trained in
>order for the future of a technological world to be satisfactorily
>attained.  Isn't it kind of spooky to picture the rets of the world as a
>population of 'untrained' but potential 'users' of technology?  Might it
>be that not all of these millions even want to be 'trained'?

I am starting from the assumption that being able to use computers and
computer networks is a good thing, that it improves the quality of
someone's life. You may not agree with that. But if you do, then I would
assume that you share my concern that using computers and networks is
still way too difficult. In my research I try to find ways in which
computers can be made a lot easier and simpler to use. I want computers to
do more for us. Right now I feel like I am the slave to the machine,
rather than the machine being my slave... (which I guess addresses your
first remark about "the love of technology": how can you love technology
that is so frustrating and hard to use?? don't you just hate current day
computers?? I do.). 

With respect to your comment:

>Another issue: the agent.  Is there a possibility that the agent, in
>'knowing' its user, actually shuts down thought rather than enabling it?  

To some extent this is true and I warn people about this myself.  Wasn't
it McLuhan who said something like "every extension of ourselves is an
amputation"? That is true for agents as well. We have to be very aware of
the tradeoffs of automation. (For example, we are no longer good at doing
calculations because we typically have a calculator around). 

>The 'will to simulation' that governs most technological innovation
>in the area of AI or AL needs to be addressed I think, because it is a
>will that has functioned throughout the long and tortured history of
>Western science and technological expansion.  

My goal is not to simulate myself. My goal is to extend myself so that
I can do more things, work my way through more information, etc. This
is why I refer to my work as Intelligence Augmentation, rather than
Artificial Intelligence.

>I guess I would wish to question whether this is all we are, a set
>of regularly performed patterns, freely available for technological

Definitely not. I would like to think that we are more creative than that
(although we may find out we are not that creative most of the time...).
Agents only automate whatever aspects of your behavior are more
predictable. It's assistive technology, not simulation. 

Hope this clarifies some things.


Pattie Maes <pattie@media.mit.edu>
Associate Professor
MIT Media Laboratory

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