11 October, 2017
The Artificial Intelligence Gap Is Getting Narrower
One of the most widely known practitioners of artificial intelligence never used a computer or built what we’d think of as a robot. Mary Shelley’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the creator of a “modern Prometheus” capable of thinking and acting on his own, captivated readers from the moment the novel Frankenstein first appeared on shelves. But that success belies the fact that Shelley was still ahead of her time. What once seemed like a bizarre fantasy—the notion that man could create a being who could think as we do—is, today, a fascination. It helps that we’ve grown closer, in our world, to making Dr. Frankenstein’s Promethean dream a reality. But the stories have also built upon themselves intriguingly, adding wrinkles to Shelley’s crisply told moral parable about how stealing the fire of the gods was a bad idea. Today’s A.I. stories thrive on ambiguity. They test an audience’s sympathies, challenge our preconceptions, and require very real intelligence.