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November 18, 2019

What Would the Father of Cybernetics Think About A.I. Today?

Wiener’s central insight was that the world should be understood in terms of information. Complex systems, such as organisms, brains, and human societies, consist of interlocking feedback loops in which signals exchanged between subsystems result in complex but stable behavior. When feedback loops break down, the system goes unstable. He constructed a compelling picture of how complex biological systems function, a picture that is by and large universally accepted today.

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A major fear of the singulariteers is that as computers become more involved in designing their own software, they’ll rapidly bootstrap themselves into achieving superhuman computational ability. But the evidence of machine learning points in the opposite direction. As machines become more powerful and capable of learning, they learn more and more as human beings do—from multiple examples, often under the supervision of human and machine teachers. Education is as hard and slow for computers as it is for teenagers.