Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and all that stuff…….
Routinely, many of our common-sense ideas ranging from causality, the good, space, time, knowledge, and mind, is being challenged by science and mathematics, refashioned into new sophisticated concepts often with counter-intuitive consequences.
Our thoughts and actions may be guided by “commonsense theories” that, though different from scientific theories, could be coherent nonetheless. Starting in the 1950s, decades of intellectual effort was expended on sophisticated and concerted attempts to crystallise our commonsense theories. The goal was to systemise and organise human thought, to replicate it, and create machines that think like people.
Over successive decades, leading researchers forecasted that human-level intelligence would be achieved within 20 to 30 years. By the 1970s, however, serious doubts began to set in, and by the 1980s, the programme of mining and systemising knowledge started to falter in a particularly instructive manner: drawing out the knowledge, beliefs, motives and so on that underpinned people’s behaviour turned out to be particularly difficult.
Chess grandmasters can’t [could not?] explain how they play chess, doctors can’t explain how they diagnose patients and none of us can explain how we understand the everyday world of people and objects.
Perhaps the single most important discovery from the first decades of artificial intelligence (AI) is just how profound this problem is.
In the interim, the project of modelling AI on human intelligence has mutated; AI researchers have made advances by building machines that learn not only from people but from direct interactions with large quantities of data – images, speech waves, linguistic corpora, chess games, etc. AI has mutated into a distinct but related field: Machine Learning. This has become possible because of advances in computing have become faster with data sets becoming ever larger, and learning methods, cleverer.
But at no stage have human beliefs been mined or commonsense theories reconstructed.
Our brains are relentless and compelling improvisers creating the mind moment by moment, not built out of nothing but built from the fragments of past improvisations. In essence, our brains are constantly integration and reiterating new information; today’s thought or action is tomorrows precedents. Our culture can be viewed as a shared canon of precedents that create order in society as well as within each individual.
Therefore, any prisons of thought are of our own invention and can be dismantled just as they have been constructed.