Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Are We Closer Than We Think? or “Great, kid, don’t get Cocky”

The book Artificial Intelligence: Approaches, Tools, and Applications, has this to say about definitions: 

Artificial Intelligence may be defined as a collection of several analytic tools that collectively
attempt to imitate life and has matured to a set of analytic tools that facilitate solving 
problems which were previously difficult or impossible to solve (Gordon vii).

While this sort of abstract formulation is interesting enough, its vagueness means that a lot of people can use such a definition to claim to have made advances that, unfortunately, often seem a little underwhelming. 
Meanwhile, the single most influential reason why we have yet to see something that looks truly like the Artificial Intelligence-s that appear in fiction is that there is simply a lot of work to do, and a lot of code to write, before we get to say, “Yes, this is one; here it is.” While it is both natural and useful to speak of this problem specifically in the sense of programming code, it is worth mentioning that there is a deeper reality to this problem that is covered under a discipline called Information Entropy. I include a video that I have made that talks about this problem.

There are a few side-effects of this most consistently-underwhelming of fields. To begin with, AI is forever in the public eye, with such assurance that whenever the true AI is made, every news station in the world will flock to those who created it. This means that there are a more or less constant stream of hopefuls who would flaunt their modest successes in pursuit of headlines and grant money.
I may make some enemies here, but I have yet to be convinced that the process of building a robot that can play piano in a band has any use, or contributes to the great work of humanity even a little bit. Yet it still makes the news. If it takes the audacity of a college freshman to look at all of the decades of work put in by the MIT media lab (and others like it), and say “Well, all of this is useless junk,” then, as a college freshman, allow me to say: nearly everything produced by the MIT media lab is useless junk that furthers the field in which, nominally, they are working, exactly as much as do those in the carpet-shampoo industry.

Why do I say, “Nearly?” Because there is one thing I know of that really excites me, that has come from that much-vaunted lab.
Works Cited
Breazeal, Cynthia. "The Rise of Personal Robots | Cynthia Breazeal | TED Talks." YouTube. YouTube, 8 Feb. 2011. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAnHjuTQF3M>.

Gordon, Brent M. Artificial Intelligence: Approaches, Tools, and Applications. New York: Nova Science, 2011. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment