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This comment on this post asked if my argument meant that AI is impossible:

I don’t think that follows from my argument. The greatest challenge with AI is that we have no good theories on the non-material representations comprising consciousness. Brain mechanics we’re beginning to get a handle on, and you’ll find a lot of people who agree that consciousness is an emergent property of a number of largely independent sub-systems, but there is no compelling theory that says “To get to AI, we need to start here, and then go here, and then go here…” There are appeals to emotion — Doug Lenat’s Cycorp says “It’s just common sense…” that a massive database of facts is necessary while MIT’s Rodney Brooks say that Kismet-style “emotional robots” are the best route — but I could just as easily argue that the problems of internal representation, or language are the first step.

As a matter of fact, I do believe that language is the key — once we have a system that can reliably interpret Web pages (say), I think that it will be a small step to a system that can generate them and, in my opinion, that will bring us into the gray area of “maybe we have AI and maybe we don’t.” For instance, the algorithms that produce Google News have a surprising penchant for cricket — neither the world’s most popular sport nor the world’s most written-about sport. It’s quirky — and that’s a very interesting thing to say about a program.

I Hope Microsoft Doesnt Buy Borland Apparently In Light Of IBMs Acquisition Of Rational Theres Been Talk That A Href

I hope Microsoft doesn’t buy Borland. Apparently, in light of IBM’s acquisition of Rational, there’s been talk that Microsoft may acquire Borland, which bought TogetherSoft earlier this year. I hope not. Microsoft does not need Together/J, a Java-based UML tool — they have Visio if they want a diagramming tool. Better, the entire field of CASE (Computer-Aided Software Engineering) is desperately in need of being revitalized by a new generation of tools: Microsoft should go back to the drawing board and create a diagramming tool that serves the needs of code-centric programmers: diagrams primarily as communication tools, diagrams that can be unlinked from the code representation (half the point of diagramming is eliding details; the other half is saying “What if…?”. The CASE industry’s decade-long obsession with creating “tightly integrated” diagrams has severely diminished the utility of CASE tools.) but on the other hand can be integrated into coherent, multi-representational models of a functioning system.

A Microsoft-owned Borland would certainly spin off or cancel the best commercial product for Linux development and Borland’s JBuilder is one of the best commercial products for Java development and one would assume that it, too, would have to be jettisoned. Both of those event would be a loss to the general programming community. 

Perhaps most importantly, Borland has, for 20 years (?), been a well-spring of innovative, high-quality, software development tools. Borland has stumbled several times over the years, and it may be in the interest of their shareholders to consider offers, but the spirit and independence of Scotts Valley has contributed a great deal to the software community over the years and it would be a great shame to lose it.