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Why does the AI not exist?

A look back at Luc Julia’s conference

Three of our members, Thibaut, Louis and Dimitri, had the privilege of attending the conference entitled “Why artificial intelligence doesn’t exist?” organized by Digital Wallonia and HEC Liège. The lecture, given by the engineer Luc Julia, co-designer of the Siri voice assistant, was a source of inspiration and deep reflection on the nature and future of artificial intelligence (AI).


AI: A multiplicity of intelligences

One of Luc Julia’s key ideas is that there is no single AI, but a multitude of specialized ones. Comparing this to a human capable of performing various tasks, it becomes clear that each specific task requires a dedicated AI. This perspective demystifies the idea of a single omnipotent AI and pushes us to see AI as a set of specialized tools.

The historic evolution of AI

Contrary to the popular idea that AI emerged recently with innovations such as ChatGPT, Luc Julia reminded us that AI has been in development since 1956. From Deep Blue’s defeat of Kasparov in 1997, marking the era of expert systems, to the advent of deep learning in 2007, AI has undergone numerous transformations. This evolution is closely linked to the massive increase in available data, propelled by the era of Big Data.

Intelligence or simple recognition?

Luc Julia also put the notion of intelligence in AI into perspective. For example, it takes over 100,000 images of cats for a machine to learn to recognize a cat with 98% accuracy, whereas a two-year-old child can accomplish this after seeing just two, and 100% of the time. This raises the question: are we really talking about intelligence?

AI’s limits and challenges

One of the major challenges is that AI databases are limited by their content. If a piece of data is not present in the database, it is non-existent for the machine. Currently, generative AIs like ChatGPT use over 1,200 billion parameters, equivalent to almost the entire Internet, but this doesn’t make them infallible.

“An AI can be compared to a tool, like a hammer for example. A hammer is very practical for a certain type of task, like hammering a nail into a wall. With a hammer it will be much more practical than with a human hand. But it stops there, that hammer won’t be useful for cooking or driving your car.”
Luc Julia

The environmental impact of AI

Another crucial point raised concerns the ecological footprint of AIs. For example, in 2016, the world Go champion lost to Google’s DeepMind, a machine consuming 440 kilowatts/hour, whereas the human brain uses around 20 watts/hour to accomplish much more than just playing Go.

AI is therefore, unfortunately and currently, an ecological aberration.

Demystifying AI’s “black box

Contrary to a popular belief, AI is not an incomprehensible black box. Systems can be explained and analyzed, even if they are complex and may contain errors. This transparency is crucial to the acceptance and continuous improvement of AI technologies.

Conclusion: AI, towards…  Augmented Intelligence

Luc Julia concludes that AI does not surpass our human intelligence, which is varied and adaptable in many fields. Each AI excels only in its specific field. So, he proposes renaming AI to Augmented Intelligence (AI), emphasizing its role as a tool that enhances our human capabilities rather than replacing them. It is essential to use these tools properly, which requires adequate education to define and understand the proper use of each AI.

To sum up

This conference was a rich source of learning for Thibaut, Louis and Dimitri. It reminded us that AI is a collection of powerful tools, requiring judicious use and a deep understanding of their capabilities and limitations. By adopting an enlightened and educational approach, we can make the most of these technologies to increase our own intelligence.

At Clevermint, we’re inspired by these perspectives and determined to integrate this knowledge into our projects, to continue offering innovative and responsible solutions to our clients.

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