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Monday, July 11, 2016

Six things computers (and people) must do in order to be considered intelligent


We hear a lot about AI these days, most of it pretty silly. It seems all to be about answering questions by key word matching and finding ads based on search. To me, AI has always been a field at the centre of which was intelligence. Here, I will list 6 things that most intelligent people can do, that no AI program can do. While Hawking and Gates are very afraid of AI, I am very afraid that no one is working on the right problems in AI any more.



1. People can make predictions about the outcome of actions


So, I could ask a person: What do you think will happen if we keep having elections for President when a large chunk of the population doesn’t like either candidate?

This would start a conversation about the current election. It might lead to an argument. It might lead to a solution. Type this in to Google or Siri or Watson and see what you get. Hint: you get newspaper articles that match on some of the words. 

Conversation is a hallmark of intelligence. Any AI system must be able to have a conversation about a complex topic. All the “deep learning” that is going on is not focusing on that very simple test of intelligence.


2. People build a conscious model of a processes in which they engage

Here is something someone might say: I keep hearing about global warming. Should I be fearful? Isn’t this just threat for those who live in coastal areas? The climate has always been changing.

This question calls for someone who has a model of global warming both now and historically to respond to it. What “AI” could do that today? Who is even trying? (Hint: it is very hard.)


3. People find out for themselves what works and what doesn’t by experimenting from time to time.


Something someone might say: I wonder how likely it is that I would get a speeding ticket if I went 120 on I-95.


A reasonable response to this might be: Where on I-95? or Why would you want to take that risk? 

Find me the AI group that is working on helping people figure out how things will turn out if they try something new.

4. We are constantly evaluating things. We attempt to  improve our ability to determine the value of something on many different dimensions

One might say: I think she is in love with me. How do I know for sure?

Typically people respond to such sentence with stories of their own lives, of love that went right or went wrong. Find me a computer that tells you a story when you are worried about something in your own life. (I did work on this problem and still do. But you can be sure Microsoft’s AI group isn't working on it.)


5. People try to analyze and diagnose problems they have to determine their cause and possible remedies.


For example: My business has had flat earnings for two years now. Should I be worried? What can I do about it?

A normal person would try to find an expert to ask these questions of. I would like to have a computer expert to ask these questions of. Google responds with a four year old article from Atlantic magazine about buying a house:


I assure that any natural language processing program that Google is working on would not fare much better here.

6. People can plan. They can do needs analysis as well as acquiring a conscious and subconscious understanding of what goals are satisfied by what plans

Example: I am thinking of moving. But I am wondering what will happen to my relationships with the people who live near me.

When computers have stories to tell and can relate an experience or concern that a person has, to something it knows about and start a reasonable conversation with them then we will have AI. I would not be afraid of that AI. I would welcome it. But, unfortunately no one is working on this. Companies are saying AI constantly we and building up expectations in people that will not be satisfied unless and until the so-called AI companies work on these six problems (and many more.) 

These six problem underlie intelligence, artificial or otherwise. Time to think about intelligence and not Markov Models that make search better.


To summarize: Intelligent people have memories. They augment those memories through daily experiences and human interactions. They don’t have knowledge stuffed into their memories, instead they learn through attempting to achieve goals they inherently have and finding that the plans they tried need to be adjusted. They get help in the form of stories from other humans, told just in time. When computers can do all this, we will have AI. Right now, we have a lot marketing and hype.

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