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According to Peter Kassan’s opinion of artificial intelligence, “The simulations of intelligence have lately become much more convincing and useful, but they are still only simulation and not synthesis” (39). Through-out his essay entitled, “Artificial Intelligence Simulation, Not Synthesis”, Kassan debates the idea of synthetic versus simulated brilliance and the implications of each. As presented in many sci-fi films and novels, many people believe that A.I. will eventually become smarter than humanity and destroy life as we know it.
Kassan challenges this paranoia with evidence of simulated wit, “In reality, however, the field has become devoted largely to simulation.
One might even say that the field of artificial intelligence is simulating the synthesis of intelligence” (36). The general idea of an A.I. apocalypse comes with the assumption of synthetic intelligence, which is why Kassan feels the need to defend the fact that these robots exist primarily through simulation. When something is synthesized, it is physically and functionally identical to the original being.
On the other hand, simulation mimics some (but not all) of the qualities of the object or person being recreated. In order to clarify the difference between these two words, Kassan provides clear examples of each.
For instance, a simulated flight may involve sitting on your couch with virtual reality gear on. In this experience, you will get the visual and audio stimulation of actually flying, but you will not feel the motion or your surroundings. However, a synthesized flight would allow you to feel every aspect of an actual flight.
Kassan breaks down the complicated process of creating artificial intelligence to support and strengthen his lack of intimidation from our cybernetic counterparts. All in all, Kassan eases fears of an A.I. takeover in his thoughtful take on the subject.
Kassan’s article paints a clear picture of the two types of perception. Due to the esoteric language used within, it is clear that the writing is directed towards those who already have some understanding of artificial intelligence and computer programming. Since the general public believes that A.I. is synthesized, Kassan makes a compelling argument against the norm. He has sparked a debate that did not exist prior to his publication, so his essay is very valuable to future arguments about artificial intelligence. Scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are cited to show that not even skilled specialists scrutinize A.I. as they should. Kassan presents his ideas in an overall objective and confident manner, adding to the validity of his statements.
Though it is obvious that Kassan favors the idea of simulation over synthesis, he does a good job of staying as unbiased as possible. Despite Kassan’s stance, he presents both sides of the argument in order for the reader to make their own decision. One counter argument is presented as such, “If a conversation held with a computer program is indistinguishable with one held with a person, there must be no real difference between a computer program and a person” (38). Though Kassan presents the idea, he disagrees with the sentiment and believes that there is a world of difference between a machine and a human. There are numerous effective rhetorical strategies in this article.
For example, Kassan uses repetition of the words, “simulation” and “synthesis” multitudinous times in his article. Due to this, I gained a better understanding of the definition of the words in this context and their similarities and differences. Seeing the words multiple times both reiterated his point and provided clarity to his argument. On top of his use of repetition, Kassan also uses contradictory statements to back up his point. One instance of Kassan’s use of contrast is in his explanation of the two spectrums; “The word artificial has two primary meanings: synthetic – for example, artificial light is physically and functionally identical to natural light; and simulated – for example, artificial grass is a convincing simulacrum of natural grass” (36).
In this example, the reader is able to picture the words vividly, in terms that relate to most people. Kassan also provides photographic examples of the different vocabulary to make the premise apparent. Though the paper is directed towards those with an existing understanding of A.I, Kassan uses some analogies in order to simplify these concepts. “We’ve noticed, for example, that certain areas of the brain are more active when the people or animals they’re in engage in certain kinds of mental activity. This is equivalent to studying the global economy by observing the patterns of light on the planet at night from an airplane or satellite” (37). The entire essay is full of logos, which is an important tactic when arguing for something related to science and software.
An example of logic is the statement, “Without understanding the functioning of the heart, an artificial replacement would have been impossible” (37). All in all, I found the article compelling and convincing. Due to the jargon used (such as, “algorithm” and “syntax”), I know that Kassan has worked with computer engineering and software. This makes me confident in his ability to assess such. As someone who has worked with A.I. in the past, Kassan made me change my thought process and truly analyze what I had originally believed. I enjoy how Kassan presents both sides of the issue and addresses why he does not believe in the counter arguments. The photographs included in the article were perhaps the best example given of “simulation” versus “synthesis”, and truly drove the point home for me.
The way Kassan uses common beliefs/misconceptions opened the path for abstract thought around the issue. While I could sense a bit of bias in favor of his outlook, I do not think the essay was overly subjective or one sided. The use of logic and reason were important factors to me, as I consider myself a very analytical person. I am glad that I was exposed to these new ideas so that I am able to genuinely re-think my position on artificial intelligence. Thanks to Kassan, I no longer fear a world taken over by artificially intelligent overlords.
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