Alien intelligence like plant intelligence?

Future Everything 2016

I never got around to writing about the Future Everything conference which is a shame because it was another good conference with plenty of interesting topics and conversation. I really should share my mindmap which is full of interesting thoughts and ideas I picked up while listening to the various sessions.

In the intelligence section Darius Kazemi talked about the bots he creates and how they deliberately don’t have human characteristics. He then raised the question of what is intelligence which is always fascinating (I could spend a whole post just about that alone) but he then pleaded that we should stop trying to humanise them, referring to them as alien intelleigence.

When we are building artificial intelligences, whether they’re corporations or recurrent neural networks, we are building alien intelligences.

There was a bunch of good points like how can we programme them to be human if we don’t really know ourselves? There was also a really good discussion about the ethics, responsibility and diversity of the creator and what is created. This was explored much further by Lydia Nicholas and her work into ethical frameworks for data use.

But I found it interesting to read Matt Locke’s post pretty much saying a similar thing. AI like plants?

…I’m here to talk about a network of conversations that we can’t hear. The garden around us — blossoming fruit trees, thick borders, and fresh cut lawns — is also communicating, an ecosystem sharing information and competing for resources using a grammar and vocabulary that is completely alien to us. Wright thinks we can learn from the way plants talk to design better networks of bots — the intelligent agents that are being hyped as the way we’ll communicate with our tech ecosystems in the future. Instead of building bots like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa in our likeness, he believes the answer might be to stop trying to make bots behave like humans altogether.

It’s also interesting the parallels between Darius’s comment about not really knowing whats going on inside the complex neuronetworks we are generating and Matt talking with Tim about the science of plants communicate and it wasn’t till recently we could understand how this actually worked.

Both are worth listening and reading, then consider the parallels.

Author: cubicgarden

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.