Phil Friedman

6 years ago · 4 min. reading time · ~10 ·

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The Prophets vs the Profits of AI

The Prophets vs the Profits of AI





"People degrade themselves in order to make machines seem smart all the time. Before the crash, bankers believed in supposedly intelligent algorithms that could calculate credit risks before making bad loans. We ask teachers to teach to standardized tests so a student will look good to an algorithm. We have repeatedly demonstrated our species' bottomless ability to lower our standards to make information technology look good."  ― Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget 





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“Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. We're nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on.” —#3ef6ce0e4a6f"> Larry Page, Quoted in

So it seems Larry Page sees the standard for being intelligent in terms of understanding what's on the web, figuring out what we're looking for, and returning the right information to us. Sort of like a Super-Librarian, I guess. Not very "intelligent" but at least it's pretty benign. 

In contrast, Elon Musk paints a potentially very dark side to artificial intelligence, one he feels needs watching and strong oversight as it develops. 

“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. I mean with artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.” #3ef6ce0e4a6f">Elon Musk at MIT’s AeroAstro Centennial Symposium 

Yet, they are both invested heavily in the development of Artificial Intelligence or AI or both  take your pick. How does this come to be?



The answer is not to be found with the Prophets of Artificial Intelligence but in the Profits of AI...

— Phil Friedman in Show Me the Intelligence

Those who stand to profit big from the investment dollars that flow into the AI industry, naturally hype the potential of Artificial Intelligence and AI.  And they can do so either by extolling its potential virtues or by decrying its potential dangers. Both these approaches stimulate publicity and public attention and a belief in the coming "singularity". And it matters not a whit to the Profits of AI which alternative view is pursued.




"A recent report asserts that the artificial intelligence (AI) industry will reach a compound annual growth rate of 17.2% by 2023. The market is set to swell to a whopping $14.2 billion over the next six years, up from just $525 million in 2015..."

— From

So many are so vested in the Profits of AI that all semblance of perspective or scientific sense is being cast to the wind, to be replaced or overshadowed by a gruel of public relations spin, marketing hyperbole, and sci-fi fantasy.

If you doubt that, take a look at the following infographic chosen by random from the hundreds of puff pieces published daily about artificial intelligence and AI. (Click on the image below to view the infographic.)



Notice that in levels III and IV of the depicted "evolution" of AI the levels at which development moves from smart machines to what we commonly think of as true "artificial intelligence" the only examples provided are straight out of science fantasy. Not only that, they are presented as though they are or soon will be a reality. Yea, right. Just like manned space flight to the outer reaches of the universe.    Phil Friedman


Author's notes:  If you are interested in further reading on the topic of Artificial Intelligence, you should not miss the following two articles by Philippe Collard: 

This piece is the fourth in a series on Artificial Intelligence that I am writing from a layman's point of view, one that is not filtered through the eyes and judgment of someone with a vested interest in the hyping of AI. If you'd care to read the other articles in the series, they are:

1) "Artificial Un-Intelligence"

2) "The Emperor May Be a Bot... But He Still Has No Clothes" 

3) "The Robots Are Coming, the Robots Are Coming"

4) "The Prophets VS the Profits of AI"

5) "The Anthropomorphization of Ai"

If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive notifications of my writing on a regular basis, simply click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. Better yet, elect there to follow my blog by email. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.

As well, if you feel this piece is of value, please like it and share it around to your network —  whether on beBee, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, provided only that you credit me as the author, and include a live link to the original post.

About me, Phil Friedman:   With some 30 years background in the marine industry, I've worn different hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I'm also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation.  In a previous life, I was formally trained as an academic philosopher and taught logic and philosophy at university.


Text Copyright 2017 by Phil Friedman  —  All Rights Reserved
Image Credits: Phil Friedman and Google 





Science and Technology

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #15

Yogesh, thank you for reading and joining the conversation. And for sharing this piece. You make some excellent points. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #14

Could you please direct us to the primary source if the two anecdotal incidents you cite? There is much fabrication of fake claims about AI, especially on Facebook where the level if fake is awesome. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #13

I agree, Franci, that it is unfortunate. All one has to do is try resolving some customer service issue with one of the vaunted Chatbots and one quickly learns that AI is still pretty unintelligent. AI is now being defined by its Prophets as something different from Artificial Intelligence precisely because AI is failing to live up to all the hype spread over the last decade two about artificial intelligence. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #12

Yes, I agree, Debasish , the human brain is light years ahead of the binary machine brain in many ways. Especially in its ability to skip intermediare sreps and get to an answer sooner.

Debasish Majumder

6 years ago #11

nice insight Phil Friedman! i wonder whether A.I having any thing to do with our reflections. how a machine can evaluate when out of the reflection of the external world our sensation eventually enable us to reach to a corollary which virtually navigate us t o progress? it is human brain which is supreme and there is perhaps no need to be intimidated about A.I.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #10

Paul \, I understand your point. However, I would compare speaking the truth about the future of Artificial Intelligence (not "AI" which is currently being re-defined to mean something different than we took it to mean prior to this) with having several decades ago pointed out that manned space exploration was a NASA dog-and-pony show meant to generate support for funding the space program and had literally no place to go (beyond, perhaps, Mars). And that if we really want to explore our solar system and beyond, we need to invest in legitimate research, i.e., unmanned probes. Wait! I just had a thought. Let's send some bots into space to report back is a couple hundred or thousand years. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #9

Yes, Jerry Fletcher, with all due respect to the Empire of the Sun and H.G. Wells, We are the Eloi who rule no world All weak in mind and spirit All rejoicing in being fed Until we're all eaten. -- from Ode To the AI Generation, by Phil Friedman Cheers!

Jerry Fletcher

6 years ago #8

Meanwhile, back at the money machine in a another burst of inventive genius Mr. Rodgers presented another of his tales of life in the 25th Century. Three exclusive Vulture Capital firms agreed that "anyone vetted by Mr Burroughs was good enough for them." And so it goes.

Randall Burns

6 years ago #7

HaHa! That's OK Buddy. Paybacks are a bitch. :-)

Pascal Derrien

6 years ago #6

I like the play on word in the title :-) ethics should play a big part in what is to come that is....if we are intelligent enough to recognize it's a critical path in developing new technologies.....

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #5

I understand that, Randall Burns, just ysnking your chain a bit. But for the record, Sci-Fi afficianados distinguish betwee science fiction and science fantasy. Science fiction is futurism grounded in an extension of known science. Science fantasy is pure flight of fancy — much like much if the talk these daysbofnthe future if artificial intelligence. Cheers!

Randall Burns

6 years ago #4

LMAO!!! I do realize that it is Science FICTION, but it is great just for the entertainment value. Cheers! I think the other reason why I brought it up is that I agree with your sentiments 100% in that we are no where near developing any kind of true AI, as far as I'm concerned it is as much of a fiction as Ellison's work. I appreciate the stand that you're taking, it's realistic, who knows if even creating AI is possible. I wonder about some of these "smart" people jumping on the bandwagon but I think that's where the "Prophets vs. Profits" comes in, people are either blinded by their hope to see it happen or taking advantage to make a quick buck.

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #3

Thank you, Randall Burns, for reading and following #SHOWMETHEINTELLIGENCE". No, although I'm familiar with some of Harlan Ellison's work, I have never read "I have No Mouth ...." But I need to point out that the core contention of my series is that scenarios such as that laid out in Ellison's book are pure science fantasy and not likely ever to be realized -- unless we turn to growing carbon-based organic artificial neural networks (simulated brain matter). For binary electrical networks will never, I submit, get us anywhere near genuine artificial intelligence. Cheers!

Randall Burns

6 years ago #2

Great post again Phil Friedman I'm really enjoying this series. I have to ask you; Did you ever read "I have no mouth and I must Scream" by Harlan Ellison? That's a pretty grim extrapolation of where AI could go. (The "Terminator" series are based on another of Ellison's works)

Phil Friedman

6 years ago #1

Philippe Collard, your articles are mentioned in this post. Thank you and cheers!

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