Bruce Sterling on the idea of Google as a collective intelligence

This is not an especially new thought, but Sterling does have a way with words (correction: see link below for his actual words):

The original sin of geekdom is to think that just because you can think algorithmically and impose it on a machine that this is disembodied intelligence. That is just rules-based machine behavior. Just code being executed. Sure it's an art and science. Calling it intelligence is dehumanizing. It makes you look delusional, sad and pathetic. It's like being an old woman whose only friends are cats. Also, collective intelligence is not your friend. Just as markets aren't your friend. They'll jerk you around.

The quote paraphrase is from a speech he gave about Web 2.0, reported by Annalee Newitz at io9: Why does Bruce Sterling hate web 2.0?

Update: What Bruce Sterling actually said about Web 2.0, a transcript posted by the man himself.

3 thoughts on “Bruce Sterling on the idea of Google as a collective intelligence

  1. Right, in our culture we think that reason and intelligence is not embodied. Since Descartes but actually much before in the Judeo-Christian tradition we believe we can detach mind from body. Computer can’t be intelligent and can’t understand since understanding is a bridge between our biology and our higher spiritual faculties. Computers lack both but we delude ourselves believing we can replicate our cognitive faculties and even extend them, without of course ever trying to know what awareness is from the inside, from our inner observation.

  2. Ivo — thanks for the comment. Yes, I think the “embodied mind” critique is relevant and it’s similar to Hubert Dreyfus’s critique of AI.
    JJR — yeah, but I’m not too familiar with Sterling’s work so I don’t know how far out in sci-fi terms he is.

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