The tech world is getting excited about “Nara,” a new search algorithm built on the analogy of how neurons connect with each other. It will be an even more sophisticated way of selling us stuff. But it also is being hailed as an “artificial brain,” a robot taking us even closer to a machine becoming a person. But is it really?
It strikes me as brain-like and person-like only in the sense of the intellectually and spiritually impoverished reductionism of contemporary thought, which reduces human beings to “consumers” and culture to commercialism, being unable even to conceive of anything more in life.
MEET my new friend Nara. We’re recently acquainted, but she knows me pretty well.
She thinks I’d enjoy American Gangster because I’m a fan of Goodfellas, anything directed by Ridley Scott and drama and crime movies.
She also knows I like seafood, steakhouses and a “chic atmosphere” — although I never told her that — so she’s able to make some spot-on restaurant recommendations. She can recommend the perfect hotel for my travels, too.
The only thing is, Nara’s a robot, designed to connect me to places and things that “matter to me”.
Designed by a groups of scientists, artists and entrepreneurs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Nara collects information about your interests and tastes to create a “neural network”.
Nara picks out a movie based on my preferences.
While anyone can try out the beta version of Nara, it’s not designed to be the next popular social network. “From the get-go, our mission has been to help humanity find what matters across the swelling oceans of information we face today,” reads the website.
“The first two years of Nara were spent in stealth, as our neuroscientists and computer scientists from MIT began building our brain-like algorithm. In the two years since then, we’ve achieved a number of notable milestones and continue to push the latest in artificial intelligence into the business world.”
“Find what matters?” Restaurants? Movies? Is that what artificial intelligence is reduced to? Is that what we are reduced to?