Information Age Education Blog
Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Muscle
Artificial Intelligence (also known as machine intelligence) is a somewhat misleading term.
Consider humanity's long endeavor to create for aids to their physical capabilities. We routinely use all kinds of machines such as airplane, backhoe, bicycle, car, forklift, spaceship, train, truck, and so on. We do not call these tools “artificial muscle.”
Eyeglasses and hearing aids are in widespread use. We do not call eyeglasses “artificial eyes” and hearing aids “artificial ears.” A cochlear implant is called a cochlear implant, not an artificial ear. A pacemaker is not called an artificial heart, although a complete machine used as a heart replacement is called an artificial heart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_heart).
Somewhat similarly, we have telephones, telescopes, microscopes, radar, microphones, loudspeakers, and many other aids that extend the capabilities of our senses.
It is important to realize that we also have reading, writing, and arithmetic (math). These are human-developed aids to the mind. Each of these aids (tools) requires considerable study and practice to gain a contemporary level of capability in using the tool. Also, we have a wide range of drugs and other medical aids to enhance our physical and mental capabilities.
The Key Idea
In my opinion, the key idea is that of extending human capabilities. As the early electronic digital computers were being developed, terms such as electronic brain, brainiac, artificial intelligence, and machine intelligence were developed both for communication in the mass media and for communication among professionals in the field of computer and information science.
Artificial Intelligence took two general tracks. One track was to develop computer models of the human brain. The goal was (is) to develop a computer system that functions like a human brain.
The second approach was (is) to develop computer systems that can solve problems and accomplish tasks that—when done by humans—are considered to be a cognitive challenge. For example, the game of chess is a cognitive challenge. Computer chess-playing programs incorporate the careful thinking of a great many researchers and computer programmers. These programs do not model or imitate the human brain. The goal is to develop a chess-playing program that can beat human players. A hallmark of success was in 1997, when a computer program first beat the world’s chess champion in a chess match (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_chess).
I find it interesting that chess playing remains a widely pursued activity at the same time as research on developing better chess-playing computer programs continues.
Automation of Physical and Mental Processes
Nowadays, factory automation can be thought of as the development of machines that combine the capabilities of aids to both the physical and the mental capabilities of a human. For example, we have long had genetic engineering to develop plants and animals to better meet human needs. We have developed agricultural methods that have greatly increased the productivity of an individual agricultural worker.
In some sense, medical vaccines and drugs can be considered part of this automation. I find it interesting to compare the “artificial muscle” idea to such medical treatment. A vaccine is not an “artificial immune system.” Rather it is an aid to training an immune system. However, an antibiotic drug might be thought of as an artificial bacteria fighter.
In any case, the field of medicine continues to make significant progress in developing aids to cure our physical and mental problems and enhance our capabilities.
For the most part, people accept the “traditional” tools that aid our physical and mental capabilities. However, our educational system has yet to comprehend and adequately make use of the progress that is going on in cognitive neuroscience, brain science, artificial intelligence, brain-enhancing pharmacology, and so on.
The same statement holds for our government systems. I shudder when I look at some of the proposed cuts in federal and state spending that currently help to get at some of the root problems of our educational system, such as growing up in stress-inducing poverty.
What You Can Do
You know that the message sent is not necessarily the message received. You, for example, have “constructed” a personal meaning to my message given above. My overall intent is to provide you with some information and ideas that you will act upon in a manner that leads to improving our informal and formal educational systems.
So, pause for a few seconds and think about the meaning you have constructed from my message and some possible action that you might take based on this meaning. What occurs to you that you, personally, will try out in your quest to improve our educational system?
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.
Artificial Intelligence. IAE Newsletter - Issue 34 January 2010.
Mind, Brain, and Education. IAE Newsletter - Issue # 52 October 2010.
Using computers as an aid to retrieving and processing trustworthy and untrustworthy information. IAE Newsletter - Issue # 39 April 2010.
What is the Information Age? IAE Newsletter - Issue 1, August 2008.
Written by Dave Moursund, February 16, 2011.
Progress in artificial intelligence can be compared with progress in developing machines to aid our physical capabilities. Year after year we will see such progress coming from the work of a great many researchers and programmers, and the steadily increasing speed of computer systems.
Our current educational system is not designed to accommodate such a rapid pace of change. Many of our efforts to improve that system are rather cosmetic in nature. It is not keeping up with the rate of increased understanding and capabilities in areas such as Information and Communication Technology, cognitive neuroscience, and general research in education.
Written by Dave Moursund, February 26, 2011.
We have made so much progress in providing people with "artificial muscle" that a great many people fail to get the everyday exercise needed to stay physically fit.
Are we doing the same thing with artificial intelligence? Will use of machines to help in cognition lead to under-exercised and under-developed brains? Certainly I see examples of this happening. People "push the buttons" or "feed data into the computer" and then accept the results without thinking. Indeed, people do the button pushing before they think about whether it is a good approach to dealing with the problem at hand and before they think about what to expect from the machine.