There’s a new tool that uses algorithmic artificial intelligence to create random images of cats, and the results are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Can you tell which cats are real and which ones are computer-generated? (Kindly share your answers in the comments, numbering them from left to right. The person with the best score gets bragging rights!)
We’ll follow up with the answers after everyone’s had a day to make their guesses or informed choices, as it were.
The algorithm was created by a process called machine learning, which you’ve probably heard at some point even if you haven’t sought out information about artificial intelligence.
In simple terms, machine learning means the creators fed massive amounts of data — millions of photos of cats — to the software algorithm. The algorithm analyzes the data and learns how patterns in the data create accurate images of felines.
Crucially, the algorithm never learns what a cat actually is. It doesn’t know a cat is an animal in the real world. It doesn’t know what the real world is, and it doesn’t know what animals are. All it knows is that data, organized a certain way, produces images that look like the photos it’s been fed.
That’s a key difference because, while we have made huge strides with machine learning, that’s not the kind of artificial intelligence the Elon Musks of the world freak out about when they smoke pot and watch The Matrix. We’ll never have to worry about our cat-generating algorithms rising up and eliminating humanity. 🙂
Artificial general intelligence — or AGI — is the potentially dangerous form of AI, but that’s a whole other piece of business: It involves recreating consciousness and the mind on a machine substrate.
We can’t even define consciousness and we know shockingly little about how the brain works, so that’s not happening any time soon. And even if we could it off, there’s a growing body of evidence supporting the concept of embodied cognition. That’s the idea that the mind cannot be separate from the brain, and the brain cannot be separate from the body, as well as a recognition that everything from pain signals to gut flora has an effect on our cognitive routines.
The bottom line: “AI” can get pretty good at making pictures of cats, but it’s not taking over the world any time soon.