While calculation is not consciousness, my continuing interest in artificial intelligence leads me to wonder just what computer algorithms can do in terms of interpreting what is known today as “big data” – and where it might lead us.
My interest in the potential consequences of machines evaluating the information in other machines came to light a few weeks ago when I travelled out of state. While getting gas the pump malfunctioned and I moved to another pump to finish fuelling.
Then my credit card was turned down and I had to call the company. In addition, a possible “fraud alert” came in to my email. Since the pump malfunction had been odd I thought maybe I had been hacked, but when I called the company it turned out that there was no fraud at all – the “computers” had just decided that my anomaly was irregular enough to warrant inconveniencing me by shutting off my credit.
When I complained about this the fraud person said simply, “It’s our policy. If the software triggers an alert we have to act.” It reminded me of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s famous comment when asked why the banks needed an $800 billion bailout in 2007.