As news keeps pouring out about the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI), people don’t know how much to welcome the technology or fear it. There are warnings from top-level scientists about a future in which super computers become so advanced that they leap into autonomy. Freed to make their own decisions, AI could lead to machines that create catastrophes like starting a war. On a more mundane level, robotics has steadily replaced humans in many jobs. Some experts declare that few jobs performed by a human being could not eventually be duplicated with a machine more cheaply and efficiently.
Yet in the midst of this worrisome situation, which also holds vast promise, the irony is that the direst perils of AI are already here, in the form of our own human intelligence. We feel intuitively that we have natural intelligence, not the artificial kind. After all, nobody built us from mechanical parts; we lead emotional lives; we are capable of insight and self-reflection. Despite these things, however, the human mind is deeply artificial in many ways, and the negative connotations of the word “artificial”—fake, lifeless, illusory, mechanical, arbitrary—apply to everyday life.