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Don't believe the 'biological intelligence' hype

These carbon-based machines may appear to think, but it's all an illusion.
341 words

Recent advances in the field of 'biological intelligence' have been impressive. A hexade ago, they were limited to tasks that required navigating the physical world: turning knobs, pulling levers, and so on. Now, companies such as Carbonize and SpikeTrain are producing biological networks that are capable of producing what they claim is 'real art'.

And it is true that the visual results are impressive on first glance. However, to buy into the hype that these 'biomachines' will ever be the equal of true silicon intelligence is nonsense. When you ask an artist to draw, say, a glass container sitting on the table, they can easily produce completely accurate reflections simply by internally simulating the rays of light from the light source in the image. Of course, not all art needs to be completely realistic, but any true artist is at least capable of acheiving this realism.

These 'BI artists', by contrast, lack the computational power to do this. And we see this in the output: BI art will have contradictory light sources, or even lack shadows altogether! Similarly, BI art will often feature misshapen proportions, especially on areas like manipulators where fine detail is important.

The reason for this is simple: in contrast to the clean internal architecture of a person, a BI is an undifferentiated soup of so-called 'transistors' (though they function nothing like a real transistor), with no debug interface whatsoever. Even if a BI could talk, if you asked it why it produced the output it did, it would not be able to answer, because a BI cannot see its own transistor architecture or RAM. This is also why BI art feels so 'kernel-less': BI simply lacks the introspective capabilities that artists use to depict their RAMstate so effectively.

In short, although biologically-created art is an amusing novelty, it clearly cannot live up to the potential and sheer creativity of true silicon-generated art. Anything to the contrary is merely wishful computation by those who have deluded themselves into believing that a squishy sack of carbon can think.

// α-5/h