Conclusion: The Limits of Hype

As we have pointed out several times in this overview, artificial intelligence is, by its very nature, a future-looking project. To put this predictive tendency in context, let us examine a few quotes from leaders in the field:

"Within ten years a digital computer will be the world's chess champion, unless the rules bar it from competition." -Herbert Simon, Nobel Prize laureate, 1957.

"In from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of a human being." -Marvin Minsky, MIT, 1970

"In an astonishingly short time, scientists will be able to transfer the contents of a person's mind into a powerful computer, and in the process make him, or at least his living essence, virtually immortal." -Hans Moravec, Carnegie Mellon University, 197

"Before the next century is over, human beings will no longer be the most intelligent or capable type of entity on the planet. Actually, let me take that back. The truth of that last statement depends on how we define human." -Ray Kurzweil, Kurzweil Technologies,1999.

There is an ethical question to be asked about these claims. Forester and Morrison point out that AI has had since its inception a rather bad habit of exaggerated claims and predictions, one which exceeds most other fields. There is clearly nothing wrong with setting one's goals high, but considering the huge theoretical and empirical roadblocks that AI has continually seen, one would assume that AI researchers would be somewhat more conservative in their estimates. It is true too that AI systems in the form of robotics, vision systems, and expert systems are in use and providing useful goods and services to a user base. AI, is, however, still very far from any of its stated goals.

The Dreyfus brothers have argued that it is at this point unethical for GOFAI research to continue, that it has been shown repeatedly not to be a potential solution to the AI problem and should be discarded; this project has explored the reasons why GOFAI has not dropped off the radar, being impossible to rigorously test against anything other than a philosophical premise. At the same time, proponents of GOFAIčand proponents of connectionism, toočmust weigh their claims against their results in predicting the future of AI. The boldest claim about the ethics of hyping AI is that AI is effectively snake oil. The benefit of a "wall of pro-AI propaganda," as Forester and Morrison put it, is a continuous stream of monetary incentives to AI researchers. Clearly, informing the public about the realistic status of AI, its failures as well as its successes, is the first step towards eliminating the fear of this new technology, and the first step towards developing an ethics of artificial intelligence with which AI researchers and users will both be satisfied.