Re: We need better tools to make better tools.

Steve Witham (
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 00:51:57 -0500

>From: "Max M" <>
>Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 00:34:38 +0100
>I don't see why we need AI at all to reach the singularity!!!
>I make a living designing interfaces, and finding new ways of comunicating.
>As far as i can se we don't need AI at all to reach it.
>It should be possible to do it by simple means of software engineering. As
>we make new generations of software they get smarter and smarter. A
>wordprocessor today know more about writing, formatting and setting up text
>than the simple text editors of yesteryear. The Wordproccesor isn't
>sentient and it can't create ideas and content. It doesn't have to. [...]

>[...] It must be designed to be a tool to make tools with.
>The problem then will not be to make an AI but to make a simple interface
>design. The humans will keep controll and decide the route of the
>development. Of course a system design tool like that would probably be
>great to use for developing an AI with. :)

I think that last statement is actually a key point. Any idea you come
up with that will present the issues and choices of tool design better,
will be equally applicable in AI. User interface is just organizing
information and choices better. If you do it so well that the user isn't
necessary, then you have AI. Seriously.

And just as serious, the humans might fool themselves into thinking they
were still in control. But how many stories have you read where a servant
lead a master around by filtering information and presenting choices in
a special way? I just saw an X-Files episode with that theme last night.
Deceit isn't even necessary here, just the kind of point of view that's
encoded in any piece of software. Think of the mainstream press and
the democratic system as a decision-support system. To some people it
looks neutral, unbiased and under The People's control, only somehow it
seems to be making a mess of things *and* supporting itself. Hmm.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that the real work of AI is the work being done
by more "mundane" programmers: organizing knowledge in better, more
compatible, computer-manipulable ways. So, much of software development
is leading to AI, or the singularity, whichever comes first, but it's all
the same process.


"It just keeps going and going and therefore you yourself have to keep
 going and going." --Energizer Bunny researcher