Thought experiments on man, mind and machine

Artificial intelligence has changed how we interact with the world and with each other, yet actual thinking machines stubbornly refuse to exist. Will true AI ever be created, and would we even want it if it was, asks Jason Walsh

Professor Barry O’Sullivan, director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at the school of computer science and information technology at University College Cork: “There was great optimism, but also a fundamental lack of understanding.” Picture: John Allen

Artificial intelligence (AI) occupies a curious position in computing today, and even in wider society. AI applications, from chatbots to bank account spending analyses, are a part of everyday life, and yet the promise of true AI, of machines that can think for themselves, has never come to pass.

Although it has an extensive pre-history in myth and fiction, as well as early attempts by philosophers to represent human cognition in systematic terms, artificial intelligence ...