You know this is important when I crack open a Diet Dr. Pepper at 10 at night. It just got serious.
There’s been this really, really aggravating trend to poorly proportion certain words to include mundane things. Forget the overuse of “irregardless,” “over-exaggerated,” and “literally.” I’m not even touching the big ones. Instead take the words “Legendary” and “Epic.” I hear it so often–especially online–where someone takes a bite of pizza and goes, “THIS IS EPIC.” “Pacific Rim was such an EPIC movie.”
No. No it isn’t. The pizza is delicious, possibly. Explosive. Exhausting. Possibly even double-plus good. But epic? Really?
Yeah. It’s slang. Those words now exist as an oversimplification. In fact, dictionary.com uses “Those burgers were epic” as a way to describe one definition. Okay, the scene is now set.
I had this conversation with my brother last night, because for the first time he was on the other side of the “saying what you mean” category (in fact, I tend to wonder if he just takes the other side of whatever I’m saying to play the discussion out). Usually, I’m the one defending poetic license, or florid prose, or the stretched definition of a word. Nope. This discussion was my saying, “It’s inconceivable! It doesn’t mean what they think it means!”
The discussion didn’t really go down that way. I just wanted to make a Princess Bride reference.
The conversation was short. Essentially, my brother said “Intelligence” no longer fits the original definition, thus filling an umbrella of vaguely connected ideas TO intelligence WITH intelligence (see previous examples). A person playing chess: intelligent. A robot playing chess: highly patterned, with a complex set of options and pre-set ideas. NOT intelligent. It will discuss the weather with any kind of accuracy only if the commands have been implanted in the system.
What’s been miffing me lately is the portrayal of “Artificial Intelligence” as the new “go-to” cool thing in media, movies, and advertisement. We got cyborgs, we got prototypes, we got software personalities, we got… webpage composers. All existing off a (not surprisingly) blackboxed hinge that squeaks really loud when someone touches it, or else not truly artificial intelligence. I don’t mind the feel-good movies where the guy falls in love with his computer. Cool. Not new, but cool. Read the Metamorphosis of Ovid and you’ll find all sorts of people falling in love with non-people. And then being turned into trees or deer or swans. But that’s not the point. This is a repeat of an old, old tradition.
Calling a formula you’ve concocted to spit out a “personalized” webpage in 3 minutes an “Artificial Intelligence” simply doesn’t fly for me. “Intelligence” is the new “Epic,” and if you think about that sentence for just a second, it’s scary. It is sensationalizing intelligence. Sensationalizing. Intelligence. There’s no doubt in my mind, someday people will turn to machines to do their thinking for them, thus making intelligent people seem outmoded as a concept. “Let the butler-bot be your smarts.”
Like writing a letter longhand, people will ask why you aren’t using a computer.
Anyway. I say true intelligence (and dictionary.com hasn’t yet watered the definition down to “slang: anything that exhibits any kind of mimicry whatsoever.”) incorporates a self-evolving thought process. Period. If that website making program can also have a conversation with me without the maker inputting new, fresh codes and debugging and testing, then it is artificially intelligent.
Which extends the question: what does “artificially intelligent” even mean? To be intelligent requires, what? *Insert sixty thousand words of philosophical debate here.* I’ll fill that part in later. To be artificial, then, requires what? Not living? Okay. Created by man? Okay. Stepping a bit into metempsychosis, if man is created by man, can a man’s “essence” be removed and implanted somewhere else to create the same effect?
Sorry. Brainstorming here. I’ve got six projects, and two of them involve what I happily call “Spiritual Intelligence,” or S.I., and I’ve spent a lot of time delving into the nuts and bolts of “intelligence” as it pertains to the non-living. (And Demons, I wonder. Not Artificial. Not Spiritual. Religious Intelligence? Hmm)
My brother? I believe you are wrong. Just because people misuse and exaggerate (almost wrote “over-exaggerate”) a word doesn’t mean it fits canon simply because. I can’t believe I’m writing this. I should be on the other side of this.
Either use the word “Intelligence” intelligently or you’ll get no praise from me! Please.