Quirky little flames

Pat: I once heard a funny idea about what will happen when we eventually have intelligent machines. When we try to implant that intelligence into devices we’d like to control, their behaviour won’t be so predictable.

Sandy: They’d have a quirky little “flame” inside, maybe?

Pat: Maybe

Chris: So what’s so funny about that?

Pat: Well, think of military missiles. The more sophisticated their target-tracking computers get, according to this idea, the less predictable they will function. Eventually you’ll have missiles that will decide they are pacifists and will turn around and go home and land quietly without blowing up.

Characters in a whimsical coffee house conversation tackle the idea that artificial intelligence may actually make devices less, not more, reliable.

From p90 in Douglas Hofstadter’s chapter in The Mind’s I (ISBN 0465030912) by Hofstadter and Dennett.

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