Larson: "Let's dispel the mythology of artificial intelligence."

25/10/2023 | Press


American tech writer and entrepreneur's countercultural thesis: the road that will lead to human-level AI exists for now only in our imagination

The road that will lead to human-level artificial intelligence and then to super intelligence exists for now only in our imagination. It is not true that we are now ineluctably on it; in fact, we do not even know where it is. This is the countercultural but tightly argued thesis put forward by American writer and entrepreneur Erik J. Larson in his The Myth of Artificial Intelligence (Harvard University Press), recently published in Italian by Franco Angeli. Larson, a singular figure of a technologist-humanist, is in Italy these days: last Friday he was a guest at the Festival of Diplomacy in Rome, on Oct. 25 he will speak in Milan at the Digital Innovation Days. Born in 1971, he has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin, created two start-ups funded by Darpa (the U.S. Defense Agency) and worked for Cycorp on AI projects and with George Kozmetsky's Digital Media Collaboratory.

Why do you think artificial intelligence is a myth? Is it not, as the media portrays it, a powerful technology that can save or destroy the world?
The way it is perceived in California, but also in the rest of the world, artificial intelligence is something science fiction, a kind of Frankenstein, we dream about creating something. But that's not what we're really doing. I've been in the industry for 20 years, and what we're doing is creating tools. Instead we use language, talking about artificial intelligence, to mask a range of human feelings, such as some people's desire to get even richer.

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