Artificial Boredom

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 12 2012 @ 3:19pm

Nicholas Carr reflects on boredom, intelligence, and technology. Carr is disturbed by Tom Simonite's report that Google has developed highly advanced learning software, called neural networks. The networks can "decide for themselves which features of data to pay attention to, and which patterns matter, rather than having humans decide": 

Forget the Turing Test. We’ll know that computers are really smart when computers start getting bored. If you assign a computer a profoundly tedious task like spotting potential house numbers in video images, and then you come back a couple of hours later and find that the computer is checking its Facebook feed or surfing porn, then you’ll know that artificial intelligence has truly arrived. …

To put it another way, what networked computers are doing is stealing from humans one of the essential markers of human intelligence: the capacity to experience boredom.