Re: AI: Rodney A. Brooks online papers

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Fri Oct 06 2000 - 13:27:03 MDT

Hal Finney has written,

> But is this really the right direction for AI research? Recall what
> the goal is: approximating human level intelligence. AI is a cognitive
> effort which seeks to create a mental architecture. Giving a robot a
> face and hands does not directly advance towards that goal.

Then again depriving a human infant of a face and hands could stunt its IQ.
For a sample of Rod Brooks views on this try:

AI (like bio intelligence) works by combining top-down (Minsky-theorized)
protocols with bottom-up techniques such as Murray Gell-Mann's "Plectics" and
Stuart Kauffman's "order for free" and Christopher Langton's "dynamical
patterns" along with the complex adaptive systems ideas coming out of the Sante
Fe Institute and Los Alamos.

> Researchers try to justify this work by saying that forcing the robot
> (really, the researchers) to solve real world problems will require the
> development of intelligent algorithms. Some go so far as to say that
> the reason AI has failed to make progress is because the evolution of
> intelligence requires interaction with the real world in a real body.

I'd go so far as to agree with them, especially after perusing some of the
(Have you read Brooks work on this?)

> I don't buy this because it seems that AI is so primitive that there is
> plenty of work that can be done in simulated environments. It's not
> like AI creatures are so smart that there is no more challenge there
> and they're ready to move up to the real world. The slow progress in
> AI is because it's hard, not because of a lack of challenge.

A new (well, really not so new) approach is to provide AIs with the challenge.
It does no good if researchers solve all the problems for AIs, because then the
AIs are just parrots (like some over-educated people). The real challenge is
designing AIs that can pick up the challenge of learning and thinking on their
own, for themselves.

> The problem with the current direction is that a great deal of time is
> spent on mechanical tasks of layout, construction, lubrication and repair.
> This is wasted effort in terms of trying out new cognitive structures.
> It seems to me that this can only slow down AI progress in the long term.

I disagree. I find the new direction and emphasis of robotics the most promising
development since AI was first considered a feasible enterprise.

> We are sacrificing true AI progress in favor of emotionally impressive
> demos.

See if you can figure out how the sand mouse works.
Then we'll talk.

--J. R.

"Blind faith, no matter how passionately expressed, will not suffice. Science,
for its part, will test relentlessly every assumption about the human condition
and in time uncover the bedrock of moral and religious sentiments."
--E. O. Wilson

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