November 17, 2002
Spontaneous Intelligence

At Loosely Coupled a story is made about some naive quotes on emergent intelligence in the distributed information infrastructure of the web. It is well known that all claims up until today about AI have been wrong, certainly when it comes to establishing a timeline, but I think it is important to point out that the analogy with Pasteurs nihil ex nihil experiment - which established the importance of the cell - is flawed. Pasteurs findings are well established, it's just the analogy that is wrong. Thw author, Phil Wainewright, is forgetting that intelligence actually did spring from nothing, it is just not an everyday occurence but but took all of our evolutionary history to take place. The real question therefore becomes whether or not Phil Wainewright is actually a creationist?

So: No, wiring together all of todays computers will not - not even by duplicating them a millon times - produce intelligence. But seeing as 1) we're actually capable of injecting design into the process of building the future network and 2) knowing also that intelligence and other very advanced structural organization of information (like e.g. the cell) can in fact be made without a conscious designer, I think the score comes out two points in favour of realising actual intelligence in a distributed computer environment in the future.

Posted by Claus at November 17, 2002 02:32 AM
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