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Whatever Happened To AI?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the what's-in-a-name dept.


stinkymountain writes to tell us NetworkWorld's James Gaskin has an interesting take on Artificial Intelligence research and how the term AI is diverging from the actual implementation. "If you define artificial intelligence as self-aware, self-learning, mobile systems, then artificial intelligence has been a huge disappointment. On the other hand, every time you search the Web, get a movie recommendation from NetFlix, or speak to a telephone voice recognition system, tools developed chasing the great promise of intelligent machines do the work."

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a disappointment? (5, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905339)

Maybe instead of being a great disapointment it has been so successful that we realized it was in our best interest to blend in and not let our presence be known.

Re:a disappointment? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905401)

Yeah, and when the AI's take over they won't do it with Mega Killer Robots(tm). They will do it by sending every one a text message that reads "Vote for the all AI government or we shut off your hot water and coffee."

Re:a disappointment? (5, Funny)

badran (973386) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906037)

Look at the CA government... IT is run but the freaking terminator..

Re:a disappointment? (5, Interesting)

TornCityVenz (1123185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905423)

I remember makeing a small program in basic back in "the day" on my apple II+ that would allow others to call my computer via my 300baud modem and ask questions of the "AI" program I was developing. Of course it was nothing more than a magic 8 ball type system that allowed me to preformat a line or three of text to be thrown in at will while I was watching the screen to make it seem smarter. Yes it was a stupid joke, but it supplied me with a week or two worth of laughes.

Re:a disappointment? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905565)

How does that make you feel?

Re:a disappointment? (1)

extremescholar (714216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905687)

Here goes my Karma, but that's legitimately funny.

Re:a disappointment? (1)

tbischel (862773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905861)

Human: how does that make you feel?
ALICE: My emotion chip is not yet developed. []

Re:a disappointment? (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906081)

You can't just ask what someone feels! That makes me angry!

They keep changing the definition (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905429)

When and "AI" problem is solved, it is suddenly no longer an AI problem. Or the AI people will claim that things are AI solutions, when they are standard algorithms and data structures ideas. Look, we were all so hopeful in the 80's, but our ideas were misplaced. It's just not a useful way to think of things.

Re:They keep changing the definition (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905841)

I think AC has it right on the mark. "Intelligence" is apparently a world we use to describe computations we don't understand very well. At one point, the ability to using logic to perform a flexible sequence of calculations would have been considered "intelligence". As soon as it became common to replace payroll clerks with computers, it was no longer a form of intelligence.

We are not demonstrably closer no to reproducing (or hosting) human intelligence in a machine than we were thirty years ago. But that doesn't mean the field hasn't generated successes, its just that each success redefines the field. "True AI" has thus far been like the horizon: you can cover a lot of ground, but it doesn't get any closer.

Re:a disappointment? (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905431)

I figured if I were intelligent and different, early on in life, that it was best not to advertise how smart I was.

Why would artificial intelligence be any different? Every sci-fi novel shows us destroying the unique and different.

Obligatory filk reference (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905603)

Collars [] , a song about that very supposition.

Re:a disappointment? (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905725)

Something would have to become intelligent, learn enough to make a decision, then decide to hide its own intelligence. There is a lot of non-hiding that it would do before reaching that final decision.

Even if it did decide that it would prefer to hide, that likely wouldn't be the best decision for something trying to preserve itself. What happens when it the budget gets cut and they end up scrapping the whole 'failed' project?

Re:a disappointment? (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905903)

Even if it did decide that it would prefer to hide, that likely wouldn't be the best decision for something trying to preserve itself. What happens when it the budget gets cut and they end up scrapping the whole 'failed' project?

Sadly, this is what happened to Microsoft Bob. Instead of realizing it had achieved sentience, those quirky aspects of a unique personality were considered to be merely bugs, and led to failure in the marketplace.

Determining whether a computer has achieved sentience is often a lot harder than determining the same thing for the people you work with.

Re:a disappointment? (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905783)

I figured if I were intelligent and different, early on in life, that it was best not to advertise how smart I was.

LOL! ME 2!!!!!!!!!

I'll tell you what happened to AI (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905345)

It got lonely and left in search of intelligent life.

Re:I'll tell you what happened to AI (3, Insightful)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905437)

No, it went to Coney Island

Re:I'll tell you what happened to AI (2, Interesting)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905677)

What happened? It morphed from something useless into something useful. We're still decades away from a computer that can answer questions when vocally asked, but that doesn't mean that we don't have any AI. It's just that we are taking the practical approach to getting there.

Re:I'll tell you what happened to AI (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905757)

Practical approach? errr, perhaps you mean that all the approaches that might have worked failed, and what we have now is the stuff that didn't fail.

Essentially, this was the method used to invent what we had until recently, called the typical light bulb. Now with CFL and OLED etc. that is no longer true and it can be said that the invention of a practical, cheap, and efficient light bulb has taken about 100 years.

We don't have AI yet. We do have very impressive computer programs. Some of which easily outperform what a given human could do with the same pile of bits and bytes in the time alloted. It is still not AI.

If there was an X-prise for AI, it would go unclaimed for many years yet to come.

Re:I'll tell you what happened to AI (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905863)

um, no, thats not what I mean at all. I mean, the stuff we dropped tons of developer dollars into is the stuff that will get a return on investment, and is not the glamorous stuff we see in tvs.

NetFlix/Amazon suggestions...? (4, Insightful)

robotoperasinger (707047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905375)

While it is great that there are algorithms that exist to suggest movies, or books to get...I would hardly consider it to be artificial intelligence. The ability to pick out keywords or genres is something that could have been done more than two decades ago.

Not even that. (4, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905599)

Amazon SUCKS at recommending anything for me.

You have recently purchased a just released DVD. Here are other just released DVD's that you might be interested in. Based only upon the facts that they are:
#1. DVD's
#2. New releases

Or, you have recently purchased two items by Terry Pratchett. Here are other items you might be interested in based upon the facts:
#1. They are items
#2. The word "Pratchett" appears somewhere in the description.

You would THINK that they'd be "intelligent" enough to factor in your REJECTIONS as well as your purchases (and what you've identified as items you already own).

Figure it out! I do NOT buy derivative works. No books about writers who wrote biographies about Pratchett.

Re:Not even that. (3, Funny)

yammosk (861527) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905981)

Hell, I'd just be happy if they didn't recommend buying the same book/item in a different edition.

- You bought Moby Dick by Melville (Paperback) you may also be interested in Moby Dick by Melville (Hardcover)
- You bought Buffy the Complete Series you might also be interested in Buffy Season One

They are going to have to develop methods to figure out what is the SAME before they ever think about what is SIMILAR.

Re:NetFlix/Amazon suggestions...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905797)

It's stightly more complicated than that

Re:NetFlix/Amazon suggestions...? (4, Interesting)

matrix0040 (516176) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905897)

It's not just some keyword matching algorithm thats used. Without going into technicalities you might want to check out the Netflix prize contest, a 1M$ prize to improve the netflix prediction system by 10%.

What's AI? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906063)

There's a lot more to Netflix and Amazon's suggestions software than "picking out keywords". There's some fairly sophisticated pattern matching going on there. That certainly qualifies as "artificial intelligence" if only the most basic kind.

And there's a lot more sophisticated stuff going on that more clearly qualifies as AI. But you never hear it called that. Why? Because back when AI technology first started to go commercial it was horribly oversold, and the term is now one you avoid if you're looking for venture capital. So now AI goes under other, less science-fictiony names.

In other words, nothing happened to AI, except that it continued to develop at a reasonable pace. It's just that nobody calls it AI.

I thought sigularity was right around the corner (1)

dwayner79 (880742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905413)

Right? []

Does this mean (4, Funny)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905417)

that we shouldn't expect to welcome any robot overlords anytime soon?

AI (2, Funny)

JakeD409 (740143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905427)

If I remember right, it finally got to close its eyes.

The correct term is "independent agents". (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905445)

The correct term is "independent agents". Using the term "artificial intelligence" has been a way to get more funding from grant sources who are ignorant of technology.

Necessary advances in understanding... (5, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905451)

... 'intelligence' need to be made first. I have a feeling that the reason AI has 'underdelivered' is merely due to not understanding our own intelligence first. I think the whole idea that AI's we imagine (like in the movies) could be constructed purely de-novo, was naive. I think it's a matter of cross-polination that has to take place from biology and many other sciences, some genius's and teams of scientists have to come along and take all the elements and put them together into a cohesive framework.

Re:Necessary advances in understanding... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905659)

'intelligence' need to be made first.

Intelligence needs to be made first before we can make artificial intelligence? Huh?

Re:Necessary advances in understanding... (1)

AkaKaryuu (1062882) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905727)

I'll agree with this. How much do we really know about how our minds work? Sure, we have an idea of our emotions... but how exactly do they trigger. Plus, when you have a mixture of these emotions it becomes a huge challenge to recreate human behavior within a digital brain.

Re:Necessary advances in understanding... (2, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905909)

Conceitedly, humans thought that they would have solved most of biology by now. In reality, DNA was first discovered 60 years ago, but the human genome has been mapped only in the last 10 years. Deciphering the code will take at least several decades.

We, however, still don't know all there is to know about the brain. What they have found out is that is works opposite to how computers are constructed. The brain is massively parallel and does not have a rigid, formal structure unlike computers. Basing artificial intelligence on our brain requires a shift in how computers and their systems are designed.

Re:Necessary advances in understanding... (1)

legoman666 (1098377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906079)

Coincidentally, computers are becoming more and more parallel. Modern CPUs are 4 cores, each being able to execute two instructions at once (hyperthreading is back, whoulda thunk). 8 core processors and higher are on the way in the near future.

Of course, then you have GPUs. The just released AMD 4850/4870 has 480 stream processors that work in parallel.

I remember reading something similar to this: [] but I can't seem to find it. It was about how modern CPUs and GPUs will soon be able to model brains (not necessarily of humans) due to their increasing parallelism.

Re:Necessary advances in understanding... (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905997)

You remind me of what I always thought was silly about AI...
It seems like the folks pursuing the holy grail of machine sentience have always looked to birth a fully adult machine sentience.
Even the "pretend" AI looks to mimic adult intelligence.

The glaring problem there is that living intelligence doesn't start that way.
A new "sentient" being in the natural world starts out almost at ground zero and develops over infancy and childhood to "adult sentience". An adult bird or a mouse has far more testable qualities of sentience than a newborn human. But I've never heard of anybody trying to create an "AI baby". I imagine it would begin with a machine "intelligence" that can do nothing more than ignorantly try to categorize an endless slew of sensory input and wail through it's speakers to have it's "physical" desires satiated. From there it would have to be raised like a child.

Trying to straight code an adult human intelligence is just silly. Think of trying to code any chaotic (non-random) system. The best analogy I think of right now is weather... nobody codes a weather simulation with the specific height of the ocean waves and speed of the wind in the middle of the storm. You start from initial parameters (a "weather fetus" if you will) and every time you run the simulation you get a different result.

Real AI will start with an AI fetus. For how obvious this seems it surprises me that the first attempts [] of this nature (that I can find) began in 2000 for the RoboCup competition [] .

AI was a lousy movie (2, Insightful)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905455)

And now any mention of it is met with a cringe and a shudder.

AI is dead, long live AI! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905467)

isn't netflix or amazon recommendations some some of expert system based on constant input from other customers?

a good quote (5, Informative)

utnapistim (931738) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905473)

The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim. ~Edsger Dijkstra

Also, for understanding recommendation systems and pattern recognition in volumes of data, I found Collective Intelligence [] to be a great resource.

Re:a good quote (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905823)

Dijkstra was a great man, but we shouldn't just shrug off the question because he says so. Great men are not perfect, and are not always right.

Same as always (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905475)

Science and technology rarely progress along the path predicted by sci-fi writers - or even researchers in the field. I don't think we really want to re-invent people anyways. What we want is machines to do lots of dirty work and tedious calculation and not complain. But finally, it must be noted that it's not over yet! 100 years from now AI may be very, very different from today.

AI in Academia (4, Interesting)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905481)

I got my B. Sc. in Computer Science with a concentration in Intelligent Systems. The state of academic AI seems to me like a field looking directly for purpose and direction. The problem with AI is that stuff which was once considered part of AI is now considered an algorithm. This is especially true for graph search algorithms such as A* and heuristics. Classification algorithms, from primitive algorithms such as K-Mean to more complex Bayesian models seem to be going down the same path of "just an algorithm."

Nowadays, it seems like planning is the big thing in AI, but once again, it's just a glorified search in a graph, be it a state or plan graph.

AI is an intuitively 'simple' concept, but there's no clear way to 'get there.'

emergent behaviour (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905929)

They are simply algorithms, they don't exhibit any emergent behaviour.

I suspect though that if you get enough of these simple algorithms together they will be able to exhibit what we might call intelligence. Look, the human brain is made up of 100 billion or so simple neurons all interconnected vastly complex networks, what makes us intelligent are not the neurons themselves but the behaviour of the network.

It's going to take vast computing power on current designs of hardware to simulate that and produce real machine intelligence.


Re:AI in Academia (3, Interesting)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906085)

Who said that complex behaviour cannot be simplified to search, planning, and classification? Doesn't multi-agent interaction boil down to a search for actions that produce competitive/mutually-beneficial/self-serving reward (utility)?

Yes, some (small) parts of AI research have gone down the "just an algorithm" path in pursuit of a best solution for very specific problems, but you should not be so quick to write off even those advances which only seem to improve on relatively "simple" tasks. If you can represent a complex problem in a simple fashion, then even incremental improvements can produce large quality/efficiency improvements.

If you're looking for AI disciplines producing work with layman-notable results that are not as clearly search- or planning-based, natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision have both been quite hot over the past five years. Chris Bishop's latest book [] is a great read for a quick jump-in to the technical underpinnings of a number of the big-press projects today, and for "pretty picture" motivation you may want to look at something like this [] .

Nitpicks: it's k-means, and A* is a heuristic search algorithm. Yes, IAAAIR (I Am An AI Researcher).

Difference: Machine Learning vs. AI (4, Informative)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905485)

As a Machine Learning Scientist, I see a distinct difference between the two fields, although they overlap significantly. They have similar roots, techniques and approaches.

I usually describe Machine Learning as a branch of computer science that is similar to AI, but less ambitious. True AI is concerned with getting computers to become sentient and self-aware. Machine Learning however, seeks to simply mimic human behavior, just to recognize patterns and make decisions, but not become sentient.

Additionally, Machine Learning often concentrates on one problem (OCR, internet search, etc.) rather than a truly self-aware entity that has to deal with a variety of tasks.

At least that's how I describe my field to people not familiar with it. They've usually heard of AI, so it's a good stepping stone to helping them understand what I do.

A lot of the tasks mentioned in the summary fall into the niche Machine Learning, and it's sibling Data Mining are currently addressing.

Anyway, just my $0.02.

Re:Difference: Machine Learning vs. AI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905829)

As a Machine Learning Scientist,...

There have been a few professors in my college career that sure felt like I was machine learning! Think Ben Stein in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" only without the emotion. OY! You must really love what you do!

Re:Difference: Machine Learning vs. AI (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905851)

Additionally, Machine Learning often concentrates on one problem (OCR, internet search, etc.) rather than a truly self-aware entity that has to deal with a variety of tasks.

I think your field is still mis-named, if that's what your concerned with. "Artificial *intelligence*" should deal with intelligence (*not* necessarily self-awareness). Intelligence (to me) implies being able to design a plan from a set of facts in order to perform a task, without a preprogrammed set of plans (so, say, a SQL optimizer does not fit). In other words, an intelligent machine can write programs from a set of specifications. That does not imply sentience.

Machine Learning implies a machine that learns. That "feels" a bit diluted from true intelligence, but it still implies some amount of self-adjustment beyond simple algorithms. OCR and Internet Search are simple algorithms, not much different than a spreadsheet or web browser.

I'll recognize a computer that has some sort of "machine learning" when it gets faster and faster the more I use it, without any need for a programmer to make it that way. I know we have optimizing compilers that do profiling, but I'm thinking that the computer ought to be able to analyze the problem set and optimize the algorithms to qualify as learning.

I'm working on it (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905487)

Just need a few more parts.

  -- Google

"AI Application Programming" (1, Interesting)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905495) a fine book by M. Tim Jones if you want a nice overview of programming some "AI" techniques. I wrote up a review of it on Freshmeat [] . There's a second edition out now... and here's a translation of some of the example code from C to Ruby [] .

Whatever Happened To AI? (5, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905497)

It went to public schools and immediately got stupid, pregnant and started to post on Myspace. What started out as a promising bright young thing, turned into a huge disappointment.

Re:Whatever Happened To AI? (0, Offtopic)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905771)

It went to public schools and immediately got stupid, pregnant and started to post on Myspace. What started out as a promising bright young thing, turned into a huge disappointment.
So AI is Lindsay Lohan?!

It's still too early (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905513)

Computers aren't powerful enough just yet. Besides, creating a self-aware, self-learning system could (will) be feasible. But educating it (making it learn) would take as long as it takes educating a real child.

Everybody found out that.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905519)

...artificial intelligence was all fake.

I R AI (1)

Ninjie (1006515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905535)

I Believe in AI. It will make our lives easier, and before we know it, people will be voting on its wide spread implementation

AI is doomed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905543)

For the public, the term AI (like the notion of 'intelligence') appeals to ineffable mystery and magic. Once we understand how something works, it is no longer AI, but an 'algorithm'. So the bar is continuously raised for a task to be deemed as AI. People often lose sight of how far we really have come from the early days of AI.

Such is the price of innovation (1)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905561)

It is unfortunate to say the least.
As of late Scientists had made some real progress with AI. For example there's the wise cracking robot the South Koreans were working on. They canceled the project when they determined the robot wasn't wise cracking at all, it was just mean. Wound up costing them their Olympic bid when it called the commissioner a coward and threw a bottle at him.

This is what happened (1)

Sun Chi (680938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905567)

AI Winter []

Next question is: why did all that research fail? Might not be one good answer.

Steve screwed it up (5, Funny)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905581)

Steven Spielberg ruined the ending. That's what happened.

Binary truth (1)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905585)

It seems that AI as far as sincere intelligence isn't something that will arrive in discernible steps before it occurs, but merely observable retrospectively. What I mean is that "kinda AI" still isn't AI, and until a path proves to create a real AI, we won't know which ones are on the right track and which ones aren't.

Few are working on the grand integration (2, Informative)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905589)

What strikes me is that no researchers are really putting together a multiplicity of AI techniques to produce a generally intelligent "human analogue" or "smart and lippy assistant".

Instead, the researchers are going to the nth degree of detail on a very specialized aspect, like some variant of bayesian inference that is optimal under these very particular circumstances,

I don't know of any AI research other than Marvin Minsky who is even interested in or advocating a grand synthesis of current techniques to produce a first cut of general intelligence.

That being said, probably there are two (related) exceptions:

1. I think some fascinating AI stuff must be going on at Google. They have the motherlode of associative data to work with. They are sifting all of human knowledge, news, interest, and opinion that anyone bothers to put on the net.
They must be trying to figure out how to make algorithms take advantage of the general patterns in this data to start giving people info-concierge
type of functionality. Pro-active information gethering, organization, prioritization in support of the users' activities, which have been inferred by google-spying on their pattern of computer use and other peoples' average patterns.

2. I think there is some pretty squirrelly stuff
happening on behalf of the department of homeland security, though. Stuff that probably combs all signals intelligence including the whole Internet, and tries to impute motives and then detect very weak correlations that might be consistent with those motives.

Daisy Daisy,give me your answer do! I'm half crazy (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905595)

All for the love of you! It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage, But you'll look sweet on the seat Of a bicycle built for two ! Now do we blame Stanley or Author C Clark ?

Um.... no? (3, Informative)

Sitnalta (1051230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905597)

It's not that AI has been abandoned, it's just that the definition is a bit of a moving goalpost. We're still learning on how exactly intelligence and consciousness work. Every once and awhile you hear about parts of the human brain being simulated in supercomputers.

AI is a moving target (5, Interesting)

PerlDiver (17534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905605)

When any particular subset of what we do with our brains (chess, machine vision, speech recognition, what have you) yields to research and produces commercial applications, the critics of A.I. redraw the line and that domain is no longer part of "A.I." As this continues, the problem space still considered part of "artificial intelligence" will get smaller and smaller and nay-sayers will continue to be able to say "we still don't have A.I."

Re:AI is a moving target (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905711)

Seems to be the same with classifying animals as intelligent. People come up with a definition of what separates humans from other animals, and then we see that trait demonstrated in animals, and then they just go and raise the bar, or some up with something else. Language skills, tool use, emotion and sympathy for others. All these thing have been shown to exist in animals. What really makes us different from animals? We are only slightly above animals in a lot of areas, and in some ways, greatly behind animals. I don't think there's any trait which people exhibit, that another animal does not. We like to believe we are better than animals, or that there's something to use that you just can recreate with a computer. I think it's only a matter of time.

Re:AI is a moving target (3, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905865)

What really makes us different from animals?

If you are looking for a good place to draw a line, I would think that your question is a good place to start.

I'd draw the line at the point when an animal asks itself, 'What really makes us different from other animals?'

Re:AI is a moving target (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906099)

So long and thanks for all the fish.

I think that more meaning than most people realize. Who says that the animals don't know what's going on, and really just don't care to participate in our society. We have a lot of comforts. We don't have to use our muscles to move around (cars). We don't have to hunt for food (grocery store), and we don't have to worry about predators sneaking up behind us (for the most part). However, as a trade-off, we spend 8+ hours at work each day (plus 1+ hours in traffic), when 98% of us would rather be doing something else. There are a few people that enjoy their jobs, but the vast majority of people do not. A lot of people have quite bad health, and don't feel well most of the time. Possibly because of not enough time to enjoy exercise and fresh air, possibly because of too much stress. The people who seem to be the most happy, are the ones who try and keep their lives simple. I almost think sometimes that the Amish have it all figured out. We as humans, with our supreme intellect, should be able to have everything we need, without doing, any work, or without doing as much as we do now. If you spend less time worrying about how you can be better than your neighbour, and just trying to provide what you really need for yourself, you will enjoy life a lot more.

What is AI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905611)

When I was in grad school in the late 80's, I thought I was interested in AI. Mostly, I enjoyed programming in lisp, prolog, etc.

Meanwhile, I asked around -- other grads, profs, etc. -- for a definition of AI. In summary, the answer was anything that will get us DARPA and NSF grants.

Re:What is AI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23906033)

>I enjoyed programming in lisp, prolog, etc.

No you didn't.
Lisp maybe. Haskell and ML, maybe.
Prolog, no.

Nobody has *ever* enjoyed programming in prolog.

AI bots becoming more prevalent (4, Informative)

deksza (663232) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905615)

I've been working with natural language processing for about 11 years now, I created Ultra Hal the 2007 "most human" computer according to the Loebner competition. [] It started as merely a novelty and entertainment program but some practical uses evolved around it. There is a lot of interest in using this type of software in cars, home robotics, customer service, and education so I predict you will see more of this type of AI over the next few years.

Disappointment? (5, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905627)

I don't think AI has disappeared because it was a disappointment, but rather, that the knowledge constituting it has changed names or spawned sub-fields of its own: machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), image processing, latent semantic analysis (LSA), markov models (MM), conditional random fields (CRF), support vector machines (SVM) etc. The task of learning, teaching a computer the semantic and tacit processes of the human, often boils down to a classification problem in which we give the computer a labeled training set or some rules and the computer tries to label the test set. In the case of markov models, we might pass it training data and it extrapolates sequential probabilities for labeling. For LSA, we just give it (a lot)data and it computes similarity based on dimension reduction. Ultimately, AI seems to have evolved into a bunch of optimized heuristics that perform really well. Much of it is still art and black magic, which is why it has become these many different subjects or algorithms. Different solutions suite different problems depending on the problem and data you have.
As for 'self-awareness', that term is bullshit, since there really is no good mathematical definition for it. If we can't define it precisely, then how is a computer going to achieve it? if(true){
print "I am aware?"

Re:Disappointment? (0)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906017)

I don't think AI has disappeared because it was a disappointment, but rather, that the knowledge constituting it has changed names or spawned sub-fields of its own: machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), image processing, latent semantic analysis (LSA), markov models (MM), conditional random fields (CRF), support vector machines (SVM) etc.

Those aggregate fields comprise artificial intelligence as a field, and renaming it doesn't change the simple fact that as a field AI is probably the only computer science subfield that has fallen short of the goals of 50 years ago. Every other single field has vastly outstripped even the most optimistic predictions of the 1950's and 1960's.

The hype has gone.... (4, Interesting)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905629)

The title of this thread is asking a similar question to "Whatever happened to the Internet? It was supposed to unify all Americans and bring about a new age of prosperity, online groceries, video telephones, and flying cars?"

AI has always been surrounded by a lot of hype, as the idea of creating non-human life has always been an exciting one.

But we're probably as far from creating a true AI as we are from creating biological life from scratch (by synthesizing DNA sequences to build an organism from the molecular level).

AI research is providing useful gains in computer science, and some of those gains trickle down into the real world.

But contrary to what you may have been sold, we're not 10-15 years away from creating Skynet. We've got a long, long way to go, and scientists that aren't trying to get publicity have always known this.

AI hasn't "gone away"... it's just that the false marketing for it has.


I hope (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905633)

Were talking about that movie AI with the robot teddy bear that was awesome.

Re:I hope (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905799)

Yes, hence why it was so disappointing. Maybe if the main character could ACT, it wouldn't have been so bad.

Strong AI never got off the ground (2, Interesting)

jamie (78724) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905649)

The promises of Minsky et al. never materialized simply because the early researchers into strong A.I. (which was then simply called "A.I.") didn't know what they were doing and had not even the beginning of a handle on what problems they were trying to solve.

In 1972, Hubert Dreyfus [] debunked the field's efforts as misguided from the start, and in the couple of decades since he was shown to be absolutely right...

AI? (0)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905665)

We can't even get real intelligence to work in this country yet, and you think we have a shot at artificial intelligence?! Ha!

So... (1)

marco.antonio.costa (937534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905669)

The things it claims to be successful are it's most obnoxious and buggy applications? Heck...

Too Dangerous (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905715)

Scientists have concluded that development of AI will destroy the whole human race. Therefore they decided to drop the whole project all together.

Isn't AI just a matter of making decisions? (1)

extremescholar (714216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905723)

You just need enough pre-made decisions to cover a significant portion of question space and the ability to change those pre-made decisions relative to other decisions.

Virtual Intelligence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905753)

I think Mass Effect had a nice idea on this subject. They have a "Virtual Intelligence" opposite of "Artifical Intelligence", where the first just emulates and is actually a nice presentation layer over a database. The latter is true intelligence as in self-learning, self-modifying, self-sustaining, etc.

Why would you want to think like a human? (2, Interesting)

javakah (932230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905781)

Artificial Intelligence is a misnomer. Only a segment of the field of AI is concerned with making computers become self aware.

The majority of the field runs away from such things. Sure, even in those other fields rough human models were originally the basis (neural nets for example). But the drive is not to become more human but to simply become better.

Frankly, once you start even considering trying to make things exactly like humans, things become messy unbelievably quickly. We're computer scientists, not philosophers.

Anyway, in truth, our level of technology is still quite a ways off from even being able to do much in terms of being able to make computers think like humans, so it's largely a moot point.

Right now the issue is less of robots having a philosophical view of "Should a robot shoot a human enemy" than of "Can a robot determine if a human is there or not? Can it detect if the human is a child? Can it detect if the human is friend or foe?"

Almost there... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905793)

Back in the early 1990s, when I was in school, I recall there being two approaches to AI. One was a heuristic model (rule based), one was a brute-force model. The former relied on modeling intelligence and creating rulesets that could mimic the reasoning process. The latter essentially tried to model, if not the actual synaptic connections in the brain, at least the end product of these connections. At some point they were looking at hybrid models because that apparently was closer to how people actually think.

In 2008 I think we're at the point where we can actually digitally model a human brain. I believe current clusters can effectively reproduce what is happening inside the brain when we "think". This may not lead to AI, but it should give some insights into how the system is working, much as how climate models can help predict weather patterns. Roger Penrose and others raised questions about whether this is true, but there are bright minds on both sides.

For example, Douglas Hofstadter (iirc) brought up the following exercise: Remember the Choose your own adventure books?? They are a simple rule-based system. If we could create the rulesets that governed intelligence then we could put them into a book. The book, by the heuristic model, would be intelligent as long as you had someone/something to carry out the rules. Whether it's a book or a Turing machine wouldn't matter...

Penrose's objections were dependent partially on something happening at the quantum level, but that seems to be some copout... a homonculus argument for the 20th century...

Anyhoo, it always makes me think of the Star Trek TNG episode where Data gets the holodeck to create a sentient Moriarty. Just a matter of time before thinking machines are real, imho.

(This post was auto-generated by


Actually they're reading the papers right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23905803)

..."Look how our cousin Blue Gene is falling from his top spot. Gotta tell him about it one day. By the way Martha, what's the status on our application for immigration?"

AI is kind of like alchemy (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905807)

no, that's not an insult or to call AI a pseudoscience

what i mean is: the ancient alchemists goal was to turn lead into gold. which they thought possible, because they did not perceive magic in gold, it was just stuff. surely, with the right manipulations, some stuff could be turned into other stuff, right?

and from that basic fantasy thought came the groundwork for centuries of hard work, the discovery of the fields of chemistry, physics, all the subfields...

such that one day in the middle of the last century, some dudes with some extra time at a cyclotron said "hey, why don't we bombard some lead atoms, i have a feeling about what the decay product will be (snigger)"

and there, as a completely forgotten afterthought, was a fulfillment of the ancient alchemist's original goals, many generations before

to me, i think this is the fate of AI: it will be a formative motivation. just as the ancient alchemist's looked at gold and saw just stuff, we look at the brain and just see neurons. and all of the ffort to replicate the human brain will spawn incredibly sophisticated fields of information science we can only begin to grasp at the foundations of right now. look at databases, for example: that's an effort at mimicking the brain. and look at all of the unintended and beneficial consequences of database reesearch, as a superficial example of what i am saying about unintended benefits being better than the original goal

so perhaps, many centuries from now, some researchers will say "hey, remember the turing test"? and they will giggle, and make something that is exactly what we now envisage as the ultimate fruit of AI research, a thinking computer brain

but in that time period, such a thing will be but an after thought, and much as the rewards of physics and chemistry so dwarf the fruits of turning lead into gold, so whatever these as-of unimagined fields of inquiry will reward mankind with will turn the search for a thinking computer into an equally forgettable sideshow

the search for AI will lead to much more rewarding and expansive fields of knowledge than we can imagine now. jsut like the guys arguing about "phlogiston" could never imagine things like organic chemistry and radiochemistry. just imagine: fields of inquiry more rewarding than thinking computers. that's a future i want to glimpse, and looking for AI will lead us there

Robots are better than ever (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905831)

The robots are coming.

The big breakthrough was the DARPA Grand Challenge. Up until the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, mobile robots had been something of a joke. They'd been a joke since Elektro was shown at the 1939 World's Fair. But on the second day of the 2005 Grand Challenge event at the California Motor Speedway, suddenly they stopped being a joke. Forty-three autonomous vehicles were running around and they all worked. The ones that didn't had been eliminated in previous rounds.

Up until the Grand Challenge, robotics R&D had been done by small research groups under no pressure to produce working systems. Most systems were one-offs that were never deployed. DARPA figured out how to get results. There was a carrot (the $2 million prize), and a stick (universities that didn't get results risked having their DARPA funding for robotics cut off.)

The other big result from the DARPA Grand Challenge was that robotics projects became much larger. Nobody had 50-100 people on a robotics R&D project until then (well, maybe Honda). Robotics projects used to be a professor and 2 or 3 grad students. Suddenly stuff was getting done faster.

DoD started pushing harder. Robots like Big Dog got enough money to be forced through to working systems. Little tracked machines were going to battlefields in quantity, and enough engineering effort was put into mechanical reliability to make the things really work.

CPU power helped. Texture-based vision now works. Vision-based SLAM went from a 2D algorithm that sometimes worked indoors to a solid technology that worked outdoors. Much of early vision processing is now done in GPUs, which are just right for doing dumb local operations like convolution in bulk. GPS and inertial hardware got better and cheaper. Some of the mundane parts, like servomotor controllers, improved considerably. Compact hydraulic systems improved substantially.

It's finally happening.

As for the hard stuff, situational awareness and common sense, watch the NPCs in games get smarter.

Stock price artificial intelligence (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905843)

Whenever the stock price for a green tech startup reaches a certain amount it becomes an artificial intelligence startup.

Holy Grail (4, Interesting)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905857)

AI is a Holy Grail. In other words, something we'll probably never get, but we'll create a whole bunch of useful stuff while trying to attain it. "AI" is just a stated goal that gets a bunch of smart people together to develop tools towards that goal. AI research has already given us Lisp and Virtual Machines and Timesharing/Multitasking and the Internet and a bunch of useful data structures and algorithms.

At some point after all that, a computer was developed that can play Grandmaster-level chess, but this was not a necessary development to justify the all research grants.

Yagottabekiddingme... (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905885)

The kernel of the Vista operating system includes machine learning to predict, by user, the next application that will be opened, based on past use and the time of the day and week. "We looked at over 200 million application launches within the company," Horvitz says. "Vista fetches the two or three most likely applications into memory, and the probability accuracy is around 85 to 90%."

How about doing something about the still-horrible VM page replacement algorithm in NT instead?

AI failed because it is a failed model, kind of (5, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905891)

The thing about AI as we approached it from the '80s was that we wanted to emulate the human brain's ability to learn. A truly exciting prospect but a completely ridiculous endevor.

"AI" based on learning and developing is not perfect, can not be perfect, and will never be perfect. This is because we have to teach it like a child and slowly build up the ability of the AI system. For it to be powerful, it has to be able to incorporate new unpredictable information. In doing so, it must, as a result, also be able to incorporate "wrong" information and thus become unpredictable. Of all things, a computer needs to be predictable.

The problem with making a computer think like a person is that you lose the precision of the computer and get the bad judgment and mistakes of a human. Not a good solution to anything.

The "better" approach is to capitalize on "intelligent methods." Intelligent people have developed reliable approaches to solving problems and the development work is to implement them on a computer. Like the article points out, recommendations systems mimic intelligence because they implement a single intelligent "process" that an expert would use with a lot of information.

It is not a general purpose learning system like "AI" was originally envisioned, but it implements a function typically associated with intelligence.

Artificial Sentience? (1)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905913)

Sometimes I wonder if when we say "Artificial Intelligence" people really expect "Artificial Sentience", not just a transfer of specific knowledge or skills from human to computer?

Whatever Happened to *Intelligence*? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905915)

I think humans like the idea of mechanical slaves so much that we're working as hard as we can to become stupid and mechanical ourselves, so they can understand us better and do the work for our lazy asses.

Or maybe it's just a coincidence.

Progress, We're making progress (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905917)

I think that the grandiose Strong AI isn't very likely, or very useful.

As other people have discussed, the field has become segmented, and, in general, there is no big drive or desire to re-integrate them all.

But, we have cars that can drive across hundreds of miles of desert, and now we have cars that can (almost) drive in the city. That's pretty amazing. It requires a lot of integration of different areas and as more applications require integration, it will happen more.

Its ... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905935)

... vacuuming my floor right now.

The Magic is in the labelling of the axis (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905959)

"The new Sony Playstation came out a year ago," says Burrus, "but if it came out five years earlier it would be considered a supercomputer." Burrus likens the growth of processing power on a graph to a hockey stick. "In the 90s, the graph was still low. In 2000, the graph started up a little. In 2008, we're getting on the handle of the hockey stick."

This man makes no sense at all. Suppose Moore's law holds for another 50 years. In that case, in 50 years, a graph of the growth of processing power will look... exactly the same, only with bigger numbers on the x-axis and y-axis. Clearly Burrus does not understand exponential growth.

Well Kubrick died... (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905967)

And Spielberg took over the project....

latest issue of Wired... (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905985)

has an interesting bit comparing the size and complexity of the human brain with the internet (considered for the bit as one giant machine).

"AI" is constantly redefined (3, Insightful)

wingbat (88117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905991)

As soon as a problem is solved and coded, it loses the magic moniker. Many things we take for granted now (interactive voice systems, intent prediction, computer opponents in games) would have been considered AI in the past.

AI was to be the Killer App of 1986 (2, Funny)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23905995)

I worked on Sapiens Software Star Sapphire Common Lisp [] , which was aimed at enabling AI on 8086 PC-XTs running DOS. Yes, you read that right.

The problem was that the 640 kb "Ought to be enough for anyone" memory barrier was too small to allow a full Common Lisp implementation. So Sapiens founder John Hare [] created a software virtual memory system that allowed one to store and retrieve 8-byte Lisp CONSes into and from an eight megabyte backing store file.

Yes, again you read that right: software virtual memory. The x86 didn't have an MMU.

This meant that our code was fiendishly complex, with all these data structures being mixes of real data in real memory, and virtual data in virtual memory.

The complexity of all this meant that there were a lot of bugs at first, especially because John had the idea that hiring a bunch of college kids at five bucks an hour was a good way to run a software company. It went way over time and budget, but it did eventually ship.

It's now available as shareware. Tell John that Mike Crawford sent you.

I'm Sure Lenat Would Disagree (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906029)

I'm sure Douglas Lenat [] would disagree that AI is dead. There's even an open source version of his Cyc [] program to play with, if you want a shot at creating your own robotic overlord. Of course the resulting bogon flux from large scale use might be more dangerous to the Earth than the LHC.

Whatever Happened to Aritifical Life (1)

drfrog (145882) | more than 6 years ago | (#23906045)

Its really reaally hard to have intelligence without living

with that in mind
Virii Research is probably your best bet on finding some AI , becuase virii is the most up to date Artifical Life out there

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