Has General AI Exceeded the Intellectual Capacity of Humans?

2 min read

Machines are outsmarting humans not only in games but also in the labor market. In many fields today, the use of pattern recognition and big-data analysis show how AI’s capacities have already exceeded those of humans. Algorithms are increasingly being used in finance, human resources, and medicine – to do things that humans were either unable to do, or unable to do so well, or as fast. Machines today do not only perform mechanical or manual tasks once performed by humans, but they are also performing thinking tasks, where it was long believed that human judgment was indispensable. From self-driving cars set for adoption in over 20 countries; to the quick transition from self-flying planes towards fully autonomous aircraft, the AI uptake is getting wild. With examples of a robot performing surgery on a living pig; or Google’s DeepMind AI doctors performing better than human personnel, these innovations are beginning to look like Nollywood “juju.”

Stephen Hawking (et al) once argued that “there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved with AI.” Whilst this is arguable (as I think that AI will never be able to think faster than the speed of light), AI is definitely out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and even developing weapons that we are as humans are incapable of understanding. But has general AI exceeded the intellectual capacity of humans and if possible, how long will it take for us to get there?

Predictions are generally difficult to determine, especially about the future. Albert Einstein once stated that “Nuclear energy will never be obtainable”; Watson had said “there is a world market for maybe only 5 computers”; and, Lord Kelvin (as President of Royal Society at the time), said “X-rays will be a hoax”.  Now, because the goalpost for what AI is keeps shifting, I don’t think general AI can be likened to spotting the chick that will grow into a sturdy cock from its days of hatching. With the hype of AI’s unstoppable capability, it still doesn’t conclude on its superior intelligence. It is possible that predictions about AI outperforming humans in all tasks confuse intelligence to do a task with the capability to improve one’s intelligence to do that task. Even in Neil Bostrom’s book Superintelligence, where he posits that a system can heighten intelligence to become a knowledge superpower, he admits that a “superintelligent AI” would have more knowledge than any human but maybe “lacking in instinct, social skills, and imagination.” Whilst his position makes sense, I wonder how we would know if and when AI achieves things like imagination and consciousness.

There are claims that human intelligence is nothing special and that perhaps we may not be the smartest specie-entity in this world (and beyond). But there is also a strong position in law that only humans are universally recognized with the legal ability of intelligence (demonstrated through rational thinking and human behavior). Therefore, all notions of intelligence should relate to human intelligence and never to AI. Perhaps comparing the technology with humans is a flawed exercise. We should focus on the way humans and AI complement each other and work to mitigate impending challenges that AI brings, such as the growing abstraction of our human experience for capitalist ends, and how AI may exacerbate common threats to our humanity. We need an international normative framework to help achieve ethical, transparent and accountable use of AI, ensuring that humanity is at every step of the invention only served by AI and never ruled by it.

Jake Effoduh Jake Okechukwu Effoduh is an international lawyer and partner at Praxis & Gnosis Law, Nigeria. He is a 2019 Vanier Scholar, holding one of Canada’s most prestigious academic awards. He conducts research and works in the field of artificial intelligence law and human rights in Africa.

9 Replies to “Has General AI Exceeded the Intellectual Capacity of Humans?”

  1. Very important topics for discussion have been brought up in this article. AI truly is what many years ago would have been thought to be impossible and regarded as Nollywood ‘juju’ . I believe that the extent of AI cannot be imagined to the full potential of what it could truly be. When put together with Internet of Things, AI in my opinion will play a major role in how our society is run. It will also bring a cause for age old laws and practices in several industries to be rewritten. Which will change the way we exist and interact with one another as human beings.

  2. Nice piece Jake, I like the fact that you echoed one of the most vital points between AI and human intelligence. I think for best outcome, the fusion of both should be encouraged. Well done!

  3. Just like the Hollywood movie “Eagle Eye”. The inventors should encourage the fusion of both the human and AI. Machines malfunction and that might affected the predictions set aside by human once the robots but developed consciousness overtime.

    Nice one Jake ❤️

  4. Nice article, very insightful. I also agree with the point that the combination of both, human intelligence and artificial intelligence is the best for the future. AI is already better than human intelligence when we are talking about routine and repetitive tasks, but we still need a human to see a bigger picture. And this will probably continue for a long time.

  5. Nice piece Jake, very interesting topic that needs attention and discussion. As you mentioned, the focus should be on the way humans and AI complement each other and work to mitigate impending challenges that AI brings, indeed humanity needs to be at every step of AI invention in order to achieve this. 👍

  6. As I read, I hoped for one outcome in your thoughts. And that is how AI and humans can work together. You didn’t kill that hope. While we see the growth and expansion of the capabilities of AI in all ramifications of human life, we shouldn’t only see the threat of AI being a replacement, but rather the blessing that we have found a partner in providing solutions to our critical problems. Brilliant piece Jake.

  7. A great read! Thanks a lot! The intellectual potential of people is often associated with Mental Health.
    Many mentally healthy people want to find internal balance and become happier. Some people both with and without mental illnesses have already discovered the benefits of mHealth solutions for mental health. These solutions can be an alternative to therapy as they’re lighter on the wallet, available for all smartphone users, and ensure greater privacy.

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