So funny to see the Sinclair quote, which I also used just yesterday in another conversation 🙂
I completely agree with your statements about the ivory tower, I had the privilege to meet it personally both as developer/architect vs my managers and as a PhD student vs my professors. I see the same both in the industry circling around “the new oil” and in pop-science where being frightened of the digital boogeyman is the golden way to popularity, measured in real dollars. So I think the “outsider area” is just as sensitive to the Sinclair-effect as the insiders, but outside you don’t have to prove anything, just say something with the proper wow-factor and bang, you are an “influencer”. Do you agree?
I keep the statement that you need to understand the words you use before making a sentence on a field. For example, you should know the scientific definition of the word information (there is!) before talking about information science. You should have a usable definition of intelligence (there are different ones, they can be scientifically compared by computation or measurement theory, in case you know them!) before talking about the limits and outcomes of its artificial (or the same way, human) version. There are practical definitions of thinking, understanding or arguing that also would be essential in talking about AI, but… who cares? Are you one of the exceptions who would be interested?
Just for example, it is so much easier to separate experts from fans in chess than in AI. Chess experts have a ranking by doing chess, you “know” Kasparov and that you should listen when he talks, not because his company produces the best boards or queen figures in the world but because he spent his life on thinking about and playing. The total opposite to IT, and its currently hyped star (born for at least 4th time, but who remembers that?), AI… although I would surely pick the one that is important because our civilization depends on it, and the other that we can live without. (And I did not bring up soccer or Hollywood…)
My experience is of course not a guarantee for being right. But being successful with “out-of-the-box” thinking exactly in this field means my opinion should be considered, even though it is harder to follow than common chats and famous statements. As far as I know, our civilization is not based on random findings in the crowd, but extremely hard work and some luck of the “insiders”. So when comparing opinions, you should also consider weighting them.
The linked articles contain deeper (but still introductory) materials, and links to external experts like Vannevar Bush, JCR Licklider, Douglas Engelbart or Alan Kay, but also including “the luddite” Neil Postman, whose predictions about carelessly using IT is a threat to our civilization. Everything we have today in IT (both achievements and threats) is subset of what they designed and warned about. Just for example, Alan Kay who is known for statements like “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” proved by (among many others) inventing the tablet in 1972 (Dynabook). I assure you: their opinion is very different from the “common consensus and fear”.
Sorry for being less playful. This is like heart surgery for me, and I have a scalpel in my hand, not a newest iPhone making selfies at the operating table.