Computing and artificial intelligence


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‘Expecting to create an AGI without first understanding how it works is like expecting skyscrapers to fly if we build them tall enough.’ Illustration by Sam Green

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Creative blocks

The very laws of physics imply that artificial intelligence must be possible. What’s holding us up?

David Deutsch

Contemplating the deep future, in light of the past: philosopher Nick Bostrom at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. Photo by Andy Sansom/Aeon Magazine

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Omens

When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?

Ross Andersen

Photo by Barry Lewis/Corbis

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Is this life real?

Philosophers and physicists say we might be living in a computer simulation, but how can we tell? And does it matter?

Matthew Francis

Photo by Harry Gruyaert/Magnum

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Cognition and intelligence
The fallacy of obviousness

A new interpretation of a classic psychology experiment will change your view of perception, judgment – even human nature

Teppo Felin

Your attention please. Photo by Jonathan Siegel/Getty

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Computing and artificial intelligence
The attention economy

It costs nothing to click, respond and retweet. But what price do we pay in our relationships and our peace of mind?

Tom Chatfield

Illustration by Matt Murphy via Handsome Frank

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Should we be afraid of AI?

Machines seem to be getting smarter and smarter and much better at human jobs, yet true AI is utterly implausible. Why?

Luciano Floridi

Intelligent assumptions? At the Oxford Union, 1950. From the Picture Post feature, Eternal Oxford. Photo by John Chillingworth/Getty

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Cognition and intelligence
Intelligence: a history

Intelligence has always been used as fig-leaf to justify domination and destruction. No wonder we fear super-smart robots

Stephen Cave

Photo by nobiann/flickr/Getty

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Computing and artificial intelligence
It’s complicated

Human ingenuity has created a world that the mind cannot master. Have we finally reached our limits?

Samuel Arbesman

Illustration by Richard Wilkinson

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Conscious exotica

From algorithms to aliens, could humans ever understand minds that are radically unlike our own?

Murray Shanahan

Sexbot Roxxxy can take on preprogrammed personas, such as ‘Mature Martha’, ‘Young Yoko’ or ‘Frigid Farrah’. Photo courtesy truecompanion.com

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Sexbot slaves

Thanks to new technology, sex toys are becoming tools for connection – but will sexbots reverse that trend?

Leah Reich

The Little Sombrero galaxy NGC 7814. Photo courtesy ESA/Hubble & NASA

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Space exploration
What if ET is an AI?

After centuries searching for extraterrestrial life, we might find that first contact is not with organic creatures at all

Caleb Scharf

‘You could walk around a simulated city street, feel a cool breeze, enjoy yourself.’ Photo courtesy IGN/Playstation Home

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Endless fun

The question is not whether we can upload our brains onto a computer, but what will become of us when we do

Michael Graziano

Jimmy Turrell/Heart Agency

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Philosophy of mind
Consciousness creep

Our machines could become self-aware without our knowing it. We need a better way to define and test for consciousness

George Musser

Photo by Vincent Fournier/Gallery Stock

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Cognition and intelligence
Build-a-brain

We could build an artificial brain that believes itself to be conscious. Does that mean we have solved the hard problem?

Michael Graziano

Photo by Cultura/Gallery Stock

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Biology
Where do minds belong?

Intelligence could have been moving back and forth between biological beings and machine receptacles for aeons

Caleb Scharf

A woman consults her mobile phone at Krasnaya Presnya Depot on Line 5 of the Moscow Underground. Photo by Sergei Bobylev/TASS/Getty

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Technology and the self
The quantified heart

Artificial intelligence promises ever more control over the highs and lows of our emotions. Uneasy? Perhaps you should be

Polina Aronson & Judith Duportail

‘When Garry Kasparov lost his second match against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997, people predicted that computers would eventually destroy chess.’ Photo by Jeffrey Sylvester

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Automation and robotics
Slaves to the algorithm

Computers could take some tough choices out of our hands, if we let them. Is there still a place for human judgment?

Steven Poole

Detail from the cover of Nikola Kesarovski’s 1983 book The Fifth Law of Robotics. Illustration by Hristo Braykov

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Stories and literature
Communist robot dreams

Tech flourished in communist Bulgaria and so did a body of science fiction asking vital philosophical questions

Victor Petrov

From The Song of Los (1795) by William Blake. Courtesy Library of Congress

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Computing and artificial intelligence
fAIth

The most avid believers in artificial intelligence are aggressively secular – yet their language is eerily religious. Why?

Beth Singler

An original French billboard poster for Frankenstein by artist Jacques Faria (1931). Public Domain

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Godmother of intelligences

Mary Shelley foresaw that artificial intelligence would be made monstrous, not by human hubris but by human cruelty

Eileen Hunt Botting

Going down? A businessman in the City financial district of London, UK Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberrg/Getty

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Future of technology
Do platforms work?

The distributed network has gobbled the hierarchical firm. Only by seizing the platform can workers avoid digital serfdom

George Zarkadakis