Standards in Artificial Intelligence

Maynard Handley handleym at
Thu Nov 2 12:23:24 EST 2000

In article <8trcgg$870$1 at>, nmm1 at (Nick
Maclaren) wrote:

>In article <KETIL-vk11ywukc4n.fsf at>,
>Ketil Z Malde  <ketil at> wrote:
>>"Glover, Roger" <rglover at> writes:
>>> Instead we funded AI research.  Maybe the lunar exploration cut-off is
>>> not so surprising after all.
>>20/20 hindsight?  To me, an intelligent machine is much more
>>interesting than lumps of rock floating in space.  That the Apollo
>>program succeeded, and AI did not, is a different matter.
>One could debate that, but it is off-group.  However, you are
>confusing "AI" with intelligent machines.  I don't know whether
>the term "AI" was coined by some clueless (if eminent) academic,
>hijacked by another of the same class, invented by the press, or
>what.  But it is and always has been nonsense.
>It was originally a term for genuine research into the limits of
>what could be done with computers, often including natural language
>processing.  This was and is all good, sound research.  It hasn't
>got very far, but we now have a deeper understanding of the
>problems :-)  That class of "AI" researcher usually loathed
>being associated with the term "AI".

It took what, 150, 250 years to understand how life reproduces, depending
on where you start the clock. And at the end of it all, the solution did
not come from the smartest person in world thinking his/her way to the
problem, but from a million insights collected along the way, including
apparently irrelevant things like the chemistry of phosphorus, or what
happens when you shine X-rays on crystals. 

At the very least the AI program has started that sort of work in the
domain of conginitive science. Most people have, for now, given up on the
idea of understanding "thinking" and are settling for things a whole lot
simpler (how can I get a robot to walk? how can I get three computer
life-forms to learn from each other?). This may not be very glamorous, and
it may take 150 years for the collected insights to get us to the goal.
But the history of this sort of approach is that is works pretty well.


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