Near-Term Futility of AI Research
Sun, 18 Apr 1999 08:28:08 EDT

Eliezer Yudkoswky writes:

>Tell James Bradley that we are coming for him. ("We", in this case,
>being AI researchers.) We are coming for the Mona Lisa. We are coming
>for music. We are coming for laughter. We are coming for love. It's
>only a matter of time.

AI research is a dead end in the short term. Current AI research isn't accomplishing anything. Until we have a better understanding of human cognition and the brain in general AI is not going to make any significant progress. Co-called AI researchers would perform a better service for themselves and the AI field if they devoted their time and resources to neuroscience.

Think about it. Can anyone point to achievements made in the field of AI in the last year? 5 years? 10 years? There are no conceptual achievements. There is an illusion of progress, but it is not conceptual. The illusion is created by increases in computing power available to AI researchers. Implementing the same AI concept on a faster machine yields a more productive result. On the surface, it appears progress has been made in the AI field. But, in fact, there has been no conceptual progress in some time. AI researchers are justing tinkering with faster machines now.

Look at the deities of the AI pantheon, Minsky, Searle, what have they produced in the last 5 or 10 or even 20 years? Who has expanded on Turing's work? If Turing is the AI field's Newton, where is the Einstein? All I see lately is discussions about the limits of computation, club-handed discussions of consciousness, and starry-eyed fantasies of Powers. There is a disconnect. Where is the transhumanist explanation for lack of AI progress? Why don't AI researchers realize they aren't getting *anywhere* until we understand the operation of the human mind? And if the transhumanists don't even realize this quagmire, who else will?

Thierry Maxey, Ph.D.
CIO, Seradyne Systems, Inc.