François Chollet @fchollet Deep learning @google. Creator of Keras, neural networks library. Author of 'Deep Learning with Python'. Opinions are my own. Jul. 18, 2019 1 min read

Descartes on the limits of Artificial Intelligence:

"Even though such machines might do some things as well as we do them, or perhaps even better, they would inevitably fail in others, which would reveal they were acting not through understanding" (Discourse on the Method, 1637)

For context, the first mechanical computer (that could do integer addition, subtraction, multiplication) was designed and built by Pascal in the 1640s. There was no concept of computer or artificial intelligence when Descartes was writing these lines.

What Descartes is explaining in this quote is that it's flexibility, adaptability, generality that define intelligence: an "idiot savant" AI may perform specific tasks better that humans, but it doesn't generalize to new tasks, which reveals its lack of intelligence/understanding

This shows greater clarity of thought than a number of 20th century AI researchers


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