Re: How to help create a singularity.

From: Aleks Jakulin (
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 02:14:35 MDT

> I was referring to the time when I read Elaine Rich,
> Hofstadter and Minsky, and all kinds of weird AI journals, and believed
> their approach was not sterile. This was about 15 years ago. Then I got
> a bad case of cellular automata, complexity, resulting in processing of
> lots of dead tree labeled with Fredkin, Toffioli, Holland, Koza, Kauffman,
> Wolfram, and their illustrous ilk. I still haven't recovered yet.
> I'm looking for other infections material, but so far haven't found
> much. Maybe I've become immune, that would be a pity.

The GOFAI approach based on pure logic has been pretty much proven sterile,
although there have been a few successes, such as ("statistical") machine
learning, constraint logic programming.

Although we express our ideas in a serial, 'logical' way, we don't internally
think this way. Our thinking is fuzzy, continuous. But to communicate, it's
necessary to provide a baseline that most can understand and that can be
comunicated easily and reliably.

On the other hand, evolutionary programming approaches currently suffer because
of a variant of the "gravel-and-bare-hands" problem. GA and SA are appopriate
for optimizing and tweaking an existing approximate solution, but not for
solving a hard problem from scratch. For successful hill-climbing evolution, you
need a smooth yet uneven "fitness" surface. For a course of development to be
taken by evolution, almost immediate fitness rewards are needed. Dawkins'
Climbing Mount Improbable book has a most beautiful depiction of how gradually
evolution works in nature, and in what ways it is limited.

Basically, the "invention" of a photo-sensitive cell is very hard (it only
happened a few times in the past billion years, regardless of the trillion-fold
parallelism), the tuning of the optimal number of photosensitive cells is very
simple. Evolving an oscillator is simple, but evolving a TV set is very hard. We
don't know how difficult is to evolve planning, association, deliberative
thought --- but we could provide many hints that would skip an enormous number
of evolutionary steps. Also, better search methods optimize far more efficiently
than evolution: if we want to find roots of a polynomial, we would not use
evolution. Evolution is only appropriate when no search algorithm is known.

As far as CA's go - I agree that they could well be a vital paradigm - I can't
imagine perception and spatial thinking without massive fine-grained
parallelism. And they're more flexible than NN's with predefined rigid
topologies (which can be easily simulated on CA's). We still have to (let them
:) figure out what else could they be useful for.

However, for the concept-level cognition, coarse-grained paralellism is
sufficient -- with individual processors as basic units of computation. Ben's
nodes are quite a persuasive paradigm. A WMish network might be in many ways
preferable to a rigid hierarchical ontology (and ontologies are a holy grail for
Semantic Web adherents, who will soon be forced to show results --maybe they
could show them with WM better than they would with, say CYC).

> But we don't have kLoCs inside us, nor sequential threads of control
> (funny that consciousness should seem to absurdly sequential to
> introspection),

I believe the sequentiallity of introspection is due to human languages being
sequential. Of course, consciousness (along with introspection) and language
coevolve and cannot be considered separately.

Best regards,

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