The ability to think, feel and act in a deliberate way towards a purpose.
What is Intentionality?
John Spacey, updated on January 23, 2020
Intentionality is the ability to think, feel and act in a deliberate way towards a purpose. It is a term of philosophy that comes up in relation to artificial intelligence. Where it is widely believed that intentionality is a common human trait and ability, it is less clear whether machines could ever possess such a dimension. Most AI is focused on practical problems such as recognizing an image, driving a car or searching the internet. As such, goals are often more or less hardcoded into AI software. In other words, AI is currently mostly about learning how to answer a question, make a decision or predict something. It isn't about forming high level goals and acting with a purpose.Artificial intelligence could easily be designed to learn to find interesting goals and choose one to work towards. Humans have little incentive to build such machines as we typically prefer AI to work towards our goals. Such a machine might not be too interesting as it might select a goal that it has no ability to work towards. Thought experiments such as the Chinese Room suggest that AI is fundamentally different from consciousness because machines process symbols and don't "understand" them. If a machine were to develop consciousness, intentionality would be an early precursor. A superintelligent machine with intentionality could represent an existential risk as its goals might not align with the interests of humans.
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