Re: What is to be done?

Phil Goetz (goetz@cs.Buffalo.EDU)
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 10:40:43 -0500 (EST)

> >} Here I also have to agree with the critics, at least when they refer
> >} to people who expect remarkably rapid progress toward transhuman
> >} technologies in the next few decades. This stuff will take a while to
> >
> Robots are cross-country drivers, runners, and janitors.
> AI can follow a conversation better than some humans can.

As an AI researcher, I have to respond to this.

1. Robots are not cross-country drivers. A few vehicles exist which
can drive on a clearly-marked straightway on a bright sunny day at
speeds of (last I heard) up to 50mph. This is a far, far cry from
being able to drive cross-country.

2. Runners: There exist legged robots that don't fall down and
don't (usually) run into things. You can't tell them where to go
and have them get there, as far as I know. They operate on reflexes;
they have no navigational ability.

3. Janitors: This is fiction. You may have gotten the idea because
the robot competitions at AAAI usually have a trashcan-finding competition,
in which robots from different universities and research centers compete
to successfully identify trashcans in an "office environment" (all walls
same color, uniform lighting, no posters, nothing on the floor, no people).
They do poorly.

4. AI can follow a conversation better than some humans can: Only if
by "some humans" you mean people with severe brain damage or people who
don't speak the language in question. :) Demos are deceiving.
Most AI systems are designed to perform on a specific set of demos.
Unfortunately, continued funding depends on impressing people who don't
know anything about AI in a fifteen-minute presentation. "Demo or die."
This emphasizes appearances that are skin-deep over true advances.
Never believe a demo until you read the source code.
> U.Sov.


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