What do "artificial intelligence", Haitian zombies and Arnold Schwarzenegger have in common?
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"There’s always a crook beside the fool."
H. de Balzac.
The myths of lots of peoples and epochs include a tale about a worker who needs no food or sleep but obediently does everything he is told to.
This seems to be a fundamental archetype of Homo Sapiens.
Characteristically, every epoch tries to impart some (pseudo) rationality to the myth, derived from the scientific trends relevant at the time.
Thus, Haitians produce zombies until now by applying magic to freshly prepared corpses. Voodoo magic seems to be the leading edge of Haitian science now. In medieval Europe, Jews would design their Golem of clay using kabbalistic research (not to be confused with ballistic) that was quite advanced at the time. Kabbalah was the freak of (pseudo)scientific fashion of their epoch.
In that same epoch, numberless Christian alchemists would compete in the medieval market of investment in artificial intelligence, attracting substantial funds for the development of homunculi. Alchemy dominated the epoch’s minds — while being half chemistry, half magic.
European clockmakers of the 18th century would make anthropomorphic mechanical robots with complicated functionality. That was really working and quite scientific post-Newtonian mechanics.
In the early 19th century, in her science fiction novel about future bio-engineering, Mary Shelley writes about a striking figure of Frankenstein — a monster surgically assembled from pieces of diverse biological material.
A hundred years later, Karel Čapek invents quite modern-looking robots — grown at bio-factories but from non-human materials. It was he who fathered the Terminator, ideologically.
Then came the era of industrial chemistry and new materials.
In the 1950s a new turn of this spiral began. Most pseudo-scientific speculation concentrated on information technology. Today’s homunculus is now to come out of digital electronic calculating machines.
In the meanwhile, the Christian world’s margraves and bishops (venture investors worldwide) continue pouring sterling gold (in U.S. currency) into their court alchemists" pockets — in the expectation that a clay giant with artificial intelligence may come on stage any hour.
What has changed since Da Vinci’s times, frankly? "Which millennium is it outside, my dear ones?" © B. Pasternak
For, speaking off the record, the development of "strong artificial intelligence" has not gone any further after ancient Egypt or the Jewish exercises of the Middle Ages.
Something did change however; Robert Penrose proved full-fledged artificial intelligence to be impossible on electronic computers — mathematically, i.e. as credibly as "twice two is four".
To say nothing of the true millennium-long scam practices.. but — did observable facts ever lead the public-at-large to obvious conclusions? If you see a "Buffalo" sign…
So investment in Artificial Intelligence keeps breaking records.
The magnetism of a quick buck, compounded by flocking instinct, is indeed stronger than any intelligence. So a working artificial intelligence would benefit those investing in its development. Their own natural one clearly fails to cope.
Here is another vivid example of the strength of marketing as a whole and naming in particular. Like in that joke about hamsters and rats that are close relatives — but the former are kept as pets and the latter are killed because they were poorly promoted. If start-ups began raising funds for industrial zombification, what would come of it?
We read in "Artificial Intelligence" instead of "zombies" — and voilà.