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The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Albert Einstein

The world of cinema has been inspired by this theme for a very long time and even if not all works highlight its negative side, I can’t help but think of masterpieces such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Stanley Kubrick, 1968), and “ Blade Runner” (Ridley Scott, 1982), where humanoids or computers simulate the characteristics of human beings in making decisions, solving problems, learning the cause-effect relationships between different behaviors, developing strategies to achieve goals and objectives but without any emotional and affective response.

Or films like “Her” (Spike Jonze, 2013) where the protagonist, sad or depressed (there is a substantial difference between the two stastes) at the end of the love story with his partner, establishes a virtual relationship with an operating system capable of evolving in order to adapt to the needs of those uses it.

Hoping not to appear critical of the good that the use of technology and its progress in some areas can undoubtedly offer, I would like to try to offer food for thought on topics that, in my opinion, should be treated with particular attention .

Wikipedia defines intelligence like this:

a complex of psychic and mental faculties which, through cognitive processes, allow one to understand things and concepts and consequently organize one’s behavior both in the field of ideas and in the field of practical activity to solve a problem and achieve an objective. Present in living organisms, more or less complex, it has been defined in many ways: capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive or infer information and retain it as knowledge to apply to adaptive behaviors within an environment or context. (

Also from Wikipedia:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a discipline that studies how to create computer systems capable of simulating human thought. The ethics of artificial intelligence is a discipline debated among scientists and philosophers which manifests numerous theoretical and practical aspects. Stephen Hawking warned in 2014 about the dangers of artificial intelligence, considering it a threat to the survival of humanity. (

In technical terms, A.I. it is a branch of information technology that allows the programming and design of systems that allow machines to be equipped with certain characteristics that are considered typically human, such as, for example, visual, space-time and decision-making perceptions. (

Considering the initial definition of Intelligence and what AI aims to do. apparently it doesn’t seem so impossible to replace operating systems for human beings.

But is human intelligence really limited only to this? A set of learning based on experience, on knowledge, which allows us to solve problems, plan and carry out tasks without the risk of making the same mistakes?

Is there really no difference between cognitive abilities (replicable by artificial intelligence) and human intelligence which also makes use of non-conscious thought (such as that of dreams for example) which can lead to further realization of the human being?

In my opinion, human beings are decidedly more complex than that. Unfortunately or fortunately.

When I began to become interested in this phenomenon, the thing that made me think the most was the fact that through this tool it was possible to somehow replace man with machines in purely “practical” jobs. Then by doing more research I learned some things that really made me reflect on the alarming direction that society and some people could choose to take through the use of AI.

Certainly the A.I. in some situations it can make our lives easier: it can carry out complex analyzes and provide accurate and precise results, it can process large quantities of data in a very short time, it can personalize products and services based on individual preferences. All this can undoubtedly save us time and help us in activities that do not require particular ingenuity or intellectual commitment; purely practical and repetitive activities of a process.

However, let’s go back to my doubts and initial reflections that cause me concern.

I recently heard about the use of A.I. in mental health services where applications provide suggestions for dealing with anxiety, depression and how to recognize one’s emotions and develop resilience skills.

Artificially intelligent robots used in the area of ​​sexuality; some researchers wonder whether the use of these robots could also be useful for reducing crimes and sexual abuse or in cases of pedophilia (as if the problem were solved if such behaviors were transferred to a robot instead of understanding and treating those who manifest a certain type of disease!).

Artificially intelligent robots used with children falling within different autistic spectrums and who apparently react better to these machines than to interaction with human beings (and this is seen as a solution rather than as further data on which to delve deeper to help these children! ) (

I confess that what has been said so far prevents me from not being critical even if I wanted to put myself that way and only offer food for thought.

Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that if these lines had been written by an artificial intelligence system they would not have raised doubts, asked questions, aroused emotions, or revealed concern and dissent. Perhaps the difference between A.I. and human intelligence lies in the fact that man is able to think and machines are not.

Human intelligence is not given only by the set of information we possess, by the experiences we have had, by what we are able to understand only because we have experienced it directly.

AI can only put together data, numbers, facts, definitions and process them in the absence of one fundamental thing: thought

So can we say that AI is language without thought?

Regardless, I do not think that technological progress, as already mentioned, cannot in some way be useful and in some areas even essential, but I really cannot look to the future imagining a scenario where human relationships can be replaced by algorithms and programs; the figure of the psychologist and psychotherapist is not only that of a professional who has studied and knows how to interpret and treat mental illness and psychological discomfort but is a human being who, with all that knowledge, together with the interest in who he has in front of him, the imagination, the ability to imagine is capable of creating a relationship that heals and makes you feel good.

I don’t want to imagine a future where we are all prisoners of a dangerous individualism and replace with robots the possibility of relating to a friend for a constructive discussion, an exchange of emotions; I cannot and do not want to think that, no matter how difficult the relationship with the other, the solution could be to no longer make love or not fall in love.

I thought it would be easy to write something on this topic but I realize that it opens up endless parentheses that deserve further investigation and maybe someone will want to do it.

In conclusion I would like to reiterate a concept that often comes out of what I write and which instead I increasingly feel is the dominant thought on which many researches, studies and therapeutic interventions (fortunately not all of them and I am a direct witness of this) direct the main interest: the human being, in his complexity and beauty, must not be standardized in canons of perfection and infallibility. We must let the idea fly free in the air that making mistakes, being far from perfection makes us unique; that there is a solution to everything, that relating to others is not always easy and that not everything always goes smoothly. But it doesn’t matter, the solution is not to relate to robots or become robots.

The solution is to stay Human. Imperfect. Thinkers.

Valeria Verna


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The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Albert Einstein