Why Artificial Intelligence cannot compete with Human Intelligence

Cover of "Predictably Irrational: The Hid...

It’s become a bit in vogue to pick on the human brain. We’re “predictably irrational,” in the words of behavioral economist Dan Ariely’s bestselling book. Stumbling on Happiness author Dan Gilbert presents volumes of data to demonstrate that we’re terrible at figuring out what makes us happy. Like audience members at a magic show, we’re easily conned, manipulated, and misdirected.

All of this is true. But as Being Wrong author Kathryn Schulz points out, it’s only one part of the story. Human beings may be a walking bundle of miscalculations, contradictions, and irrationalities, but we’re built that way for a reason: The same cognitive processes that lead us down the road to error and tragedy are the root of our intelligence and our ability to cope with and survive in a changing world. We pay attention to our mental processes when they fail, but that distracts us from the fact that most of the time, our brains do amazingly well.

The mechanism for this is a cognitive balancing act. Without our ever thinking about it, our brains tread a tightrope between learning too much from the past and incorporating too much new information from the present. The ability to walk this line—to adjust to the demands of different environments and modalities—is one of human cognition’s most astonishing traits. Artificial intelligence has yet to come anywhere close.

Excerpt From: Eli, Pariser. “The Filter Bubble.”

Experts are wrong more often

“Philip Tetlock, a political scientist, found similar results when he invited a variety of academics and pundits into his office and asked them to make predictions about the future in their areas of expertise. Would the Soviet Union fall in the next ten years? In what year would the U.S. economy start growing again? For ten years, Tetlock kept asking these questions. He asked them not only of experts, but also of folks he’d brought in off the street—plumbers and schoolteachers with no special expertise in politics or history. When he finally compiled the results, even he was surprised. It wasn’t just that the normal folks’ predictions beat the experts’. The experts’ predictions weren’t even close.

Why? Experts have a lot invested in the theories they’ve developed to explain the world. And after a few years of working on them, they tend to see them everywhere. For example, bullish stock analysts banking on rosy financial scenarios were unable to identify the housing bubble that nearly bankrupted the economy—even though the trends that drove it were pretty clear to anyone looking. It’s not just that experts are vulnerable to confirmation bias—it’s that they’re especially vulnerable to it.”

Excerpt From: Eli, Pariser. “The Filter Bubble.”