Strong AI Smackdown — Seriously, This Time

The January ’04 CACM’s lead letter is a smackdown of Hans Moravec and the concept that more MIPS is the path to AI. (When really it’s spam that will lead to AI.) Anyway, the author tersely makes the excellent points that people such as Moravec are again making the argument that “Someday computers will wake up,” with “the same intellectually faulty arguments and foundational quicksand AI has always suffered….Just because you put a picture of a chim and a human on the same graph with a Dell Computer doesn’t mean the chimp, or human, capabilities will be meaningfully measured in MIPS…[Moravec leaves] entirely undefined, unspecified, and unaddressed [such questions as]: What is behavior?; What is a mind?; What is consciousness?; What is reasoning?” to which Moravec’s lame reply is to pretend that the letter writer is caught up in “Western philosophy, let alone religion.”

There’s been virtually no progress in AI theory in the past decade. Everyone in AI seems to be crossing their fingers and hoping that some unexpected emergent phenomena will kick in when enough something (data, MIPS, facts, environmental input…) crosses some line. Maybe. I think it’s less likely than my joke that spam will lead to the co-evolution of machine intelligence.