Synthetic Intelligence

…the question whether machines can think as relevant as the question whether submarines can swim. - Dijkstra

Here are the some common 2-word phrases using “artificial” and “synthetic” in the English language:

  • artificial barriers
  • artificial birth
  • artificial blood
  • artificial boundaries
  • artificial christmas
  • artificial colors
  • artificial contraception
  • artificial environment
  • artificial flowers
  • artificial gravity
  • artificial heart
  • artificial hip
  • artificial ingredients
  • artificial insemination
  • artificial intelligence
  • artificial islands
  • artificial lake
  • artificial leg
  • artificial life
  • artificial light
  • artificial limb
  • artificial means
  • artificial nutrition
  • artificial reef
  • artificial retina
  • artificial saliva
  • artificial skin
  • artificial surface
  • artificial sweetener
  • artificial tree
  • artificial turf
  • artificial womb
  • artificial world
  • synthetic biology
  • synthetic chemical
  • synthetic drugs
  • synthetic estrogen
  • synthetic fabric
  • synthetic fertilizers
  • synthetic fiber
  • synthetic form
  • synthetic fuel
  • synthetic hormone
  • synthetic insulation
  • synthetic leather
  • synthetic marijuana
  • synthetic material
  • synthetic oil
  • synthetic pesticides
  • synthetic rubber
  • synthetic speech
  • synthetic stock
  • synthetic version
  • synthetic voice

Can you spot the difference?

  • “artificial” ⇒ “imitation”
  • “synthetic” ⇒ “man-made”

An artificial diamond is something like cubic zirconia. It’s not a diamond — it’s not even carbon — but can still serve as an appropriate substitute for an engagement ring. A synthetic diamond is simply created in a lab. It’s real, genuine carbon, but it wasn’t created by pressure from the Earth’s crust and mined under questionable conditions.

It may not seem like a big deal, but whether or not we consider something an “imitation” has huge moral and legal repurcussions.

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