How different would we think about artificial intelligence if AI pioneers Allen Newell and Herbert Simon had won support for the seemingly less hype-prone term of “complex information processing,” rather than “artificial intelligence,” which was ultimately adopted by the field?
On the surface, this thought experiment is interesting because it asks if artificial intelligence is intrinsically hyped. That is, is the word alone enough to get us in trouble? This was the focus of a recent Wall Street Journal article where columnist Christopher Mims asks experts in artificial intelligence whether the name alone produces confusion and hype?
Mims quotes Melanie Mitchell, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute, who quips, “What would the world be like if it [AI] was called that [complex information processing] instead?” Unfortunately, Mims uses Mitchell’s thought experiment as a punchline at the very end of the article, not as a counterfactual. Therefore, we will explore what facts surround the rhetorical question and answer whether the world would be better without artificial intelligence.