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Howard Yee

Software Engineer @ Rubenstein Technology Group,

TEDCRED 50+

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Can technology replace human intelligence?

This week in my Bioelectricity class we learned about extracellular fields. One facet of the study of extracellular field I find interesting is the determination of the field from a known source (AKA the Forward Problem) versus the determination of the source from a known field (AKA the Inverse Problem). Whereas the forward problem is simple and solutions may be obtained through calculations, the inverse problem poses a problem. The lack of uniqueness to the inverse problem means the solution requires interpretation, which may be subjective. We may also apply a mechanism for the interpretation; this mechanism is known as an AI. However, this facet of AI (document classification) is only the surface of the field.

Damon Horowitz gave a recent presentation at TEDxSoMa called “Why machines need people”. In it, he says that AI can never approach the intelligence of humans. He gives examples of AI systems, like classification and summarization. He explains that those systems are simply “pattern matching” without any intelligence behind them. If true, perhaps the subjective interpretation of inverse problems is welcomed over the dumb classification. Through experience, the interpreters may have more insight than one can impart on an algorithm.

However, what Damon failed to mention was that most of those AI systems built to do small tasks is known as weak AI. There is a whole other field of study for strong AI, whose methods of creating intelligence is much more than “pattern matching”. Proponents of strong AI believe that human intelligence can be replicated. Of course we are a long way off from seeing human-level AI. What makes human intelligence hard to replicate? Can it be simulated? What if we created a model of the human brain, would it be able to think?

Related Videos (not on Ted):
“Why Machines need People”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YdE-D_lSgI&feature=player_embedded

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    Mar 9 2012: Not to spam the forum with lots of my rambling and randomly researched material, but there's a field of science whose job is to apply quantum theory to cognitive phenomenon:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_cognition

    All of this just reinforces the idea that the universe is an amazingly vast, intricately detailed place! With so many things still hidden from us, in plain sight, it makes me pause and ask the question: What if we *are* just matter? And then, taking a look at the way MATTER acts, we could be *just* matter and STILL have things exist beyond what we've seen so far or even what we *can* see here *because* of as yet unknown rules and interactions that science could determine.

    Take for instance, notions within the scientific community that the universe is just a hologram:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/10/holometer-universe-resolution/

    http://www.universetoday.com/59921/holographic-universe/

    or the idea of encoding information on the surface of a black hole:

    http://www.theory.caltech.edu/people/preskill/blackhole_bet.html (Summary of article---"Your most precious theories have been (or must be) altered. Pray I do not alter them further.")

    In fact, as we learn more about ourselves and the nature of the universe, thinking machines become downright plausible, and the idea of referring to tools and machines as "just matter" almost does an injustice to the mystery that still exists in plain ol' 3-Dimensional space.

    So that begs the question---if we invented machines that can do these things as well as we do and outperform us in the only tests we know to determine consciousness, why wouldn't they be conscious as well?

    But I am in emphatic agreement with you about scrutinizing these things and trying to determine if they truly encapsulate what it means to be conscious! Constant scrutiny and a healthy skepticism of ALL things is important!!!
    • Mar 9 2012: Hey, Logan. You sound like a deep thinker. I like it! Here's some ideas for you to ponder, let me know what you think.

      1. The human brain, the seat of consciousness, is too big, too warm, and too wet for any meaningful quantum phenomenon to contribute significantly to the phenomenon of consciousnesses.

      2. Quantum matter can be transformed into energy, that's where it comes from and that's where it goes. But yeah, take this line of reasoning all the way back to the big bang... from where did the big bang come?

      3. Quantum computing is coming along... have you heard of biological computing? I have heard some things along the lines of DNA uses a four dimensional coding scheme, computers traditionally have used a two dimensional (binary) scheme. I think there is some sort of research being done into organic computing, using more than 2 dimensions for information coding.

      4. We (human beings) are just matter with special properties.

      5. Are humans truly conscious? Are dogs? Are ants? What is the definition of consciousness? How do you personally define consciousness?

      Thanks for posting and reading!

      Chase
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        Mar 9 2012: Howdy, Chase! Well, I try, but no matter how deep I think, it never quite seems to me to be enough. Does it ever? :)

        1. Yeah, I'd come across a few things stating something to that effect. But take a look at this:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12827893

        It's an article about the way we smell things, and how we are actually absorbing quanta and processing them as smells. One of our basic five senses could be quanta-dependent or even quanta-based.

        I personally found this quite Intriguing when I heard of it! Let us not forget how intimately linked with memory our sense of smell is, and the subsequent implication of quanta being at least tangentially related to *that* function, which is itself intimately tied to studies of intelligence in human beings! A long chain of dependencies, any one of which further research could crack or change, to be sure, but to a deep thinker, perhaps everything looks like a deep complexity, and I am making something of nothing. :)

        2. Yeah, you kinda answered your own question there. To answer where the energy for the Big Bang came from, there is a theory floating around that multiple universes exist, one right next to the other, and that, undulating and vibrating as two-dimensional entities with 3-dimensional information encoded on it, such as universes, are wont to do, they collided---and the imparting energy of which started the ever-expanding universe we see around us today.

        http://io9.com/5714803/does-our-universe-show-bruises-where-it-collided-with-other-universes
        http://discovermagazine.com/2009/oct/04-will-our-universe-collide-with-neighboring-one
        http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/3151/something-big-found-beyond-edge-universe

        3. Yeah, I've heard about it! Seen a couple amazing things, too!

        http://singularityhub.com/2010/10/06/videos-of-robot-controlled-by-rat-brain-amazing-technology-still-moving-forward/

        Kinda creeps me out, to be honest, but in a good way
        • Mar 10 2012: A quantum is simply the minimal physical entity involved in any interaction, right? So everything works on quanta, because a minimal physical entity (and usually more) is involved in every interaction.

          Retinal cells (which are actually extensions of the brain and the only part of the brain you can see from the outside (the eye doctor when looking at your retina is looking at neural tissue emanating from your brain)) can detect and respond to a single quanta of light: a photon.

          In my current line of thinking, quantum mechanics will not explain consciousness. The brain is too big, wet, hot for quantum phenomena to contribute to brain processes. I'm no expert here, but it makes sense to me.

          And a point on agnosticism, agnostics don't just say we don't know, they say we can't know...

          What I do think will explain consciousness is systems theories. The functional unit of the brain is the neuron. Neurons fire on an all or none principle (this is binary, either 0 or 1). But the language of the brain is in neuronal firing patterns, so the brain isn't binary, I'm not sure what it is in this respect.

          The secret of consciousness (in my best guess opinion) lies in the brain system (the flow of information) being able to turn back on itself. The brain is able to monitor itself and the body that houses it in "real time."

          Have you heard of Douglas Hofstader (sp?). He wrote a book titled "I Am a Strange Loop." Hofstader's idea of strange loops is interesting and I believe may have some implications to the phenomenon of consciousness.

          Obviously I could be way off.
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          Mar 11 2012: To Chase - then you know Gödel-Escher-Bach as well?

          It is no accident that many physics turn to become philosophers - at least in Germany this was the case during my student years. The transformation of material to immaterial - from quantum or what ever to consciousness or to religion or to values - is and stays a mystery despite all research.

          I think that Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle explained very well why we can never anser the question: By explaining you inevitably interact, watching is interacting - and so you change the object... so the immaterial watching is influencing the material watched: And viceversa.

          Explaination at the point turns to a self-referentiell cycle - with the self being more than the individual. For me the nobel-prize winning "game theory" (Prof. Selten) offers some insights how these explanation-cycles work.
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        Mar 9 2012: In addition to the quantum computing idea, I think I posted articles in a response somewhere else in this forum about quantum computing and quantum data. It was the sister posts to the original post here. But here's one of the links, that is kinda cool:

        http://www.dwavesys.com/en/technology.html

        4. Yeah, maybe we are---but I'm kinda agnostic. "Don't know if we are, don't know if we aren't" etc. Just wanna see the proof and judge for myself. :) We get a lot of people who conjecture, and postulate, and even argue, but very little *real* proof.

        5. See number 4, hehehe. But I love reading about whatever anybody finds!
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        Mar 10 2012: @Chase: Well, to be perfectly honest, I try to soft-soap my agnosticism by saying "I don't know." Science and logic-minded folk find that more palatable than saying "NO ONE CAN KNOW", because that assertion almost makes it seem like they shouldn't be doing exactly the sort of things they are doing (when I feel they most definitely *should* be doing their thing). It seems to make them feel like they're spinning their wheels. And religion and God-fearing folk find it more palatable because saying "I don't know" still leaves them with the possibility that they/God knows. Which, as far as I know, *might* be true.

        Just being polite, is all. :)

        As for what a quantum is---yes, your definition is correct. But my point was that there is a quantum interaction going on with smell. If such interactions occur in a hot, wet, environment like the nose, why not the brain, even if it may be in a way we do not yet understand? And from what I've been able to gather (which is far from conclusive) the reason so few olfactory receptors in our noses are able to detect such a wide variety of smells is due to an effect known as "quantum tunneling."

        When a molecuile binds to a receptor site, an electron is transferred from the molecule (feel free, at any point, to correct me if I am not accurately describing the process!) to the receptor, activating the receptor, and in addition, causing the molecule to vibrate in such a way that is specific to that molecule that---the subtle differences in vibration are detectable, which our brains pick up on. If our noses can do that---why wouldn't our brains be able to do other things with quantum states? Even better, take a look at this article:

        http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread714014/pg1

        This article is suggesting that DNA can act as "a spin filter" and can distinguish between two quantum states. Not entirely sure what all of that means, but it would seem that quantum interactions happen more often and in more ways, than we know.
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          Mar 11 2012: I'm not getting religious logan but it says in revelation? That even his image will condemn you,so for me it's a forgone conclusion that someone writes a bloody good bot or AI is achieved at some date somewhen.I know one can look at that sentence and say anything but it stood out as peculiar as it didn't fit.

          I think most researchers say Qauntum aspects when they talk on neuron fuzziness which just means we're still on the journey to figuring the brain out.I don't think one should look at the brain as systems,subsystems because of those people born in the world with only 30% brain matter and yet they are fully functional people with no differences in anyway or was it 2%,i can't remember.
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        Mar 10 2012: @Chase: All I'm saying is that there is plenty of "reasonable doubt" as far as the role of quantum mechanics in the functions of consciousness that we shouldn't rule anything out yet without further research.

        And no! I haven't heard of Douglas Hofstadter or his book, but it sounds interesting! A quick Google/Wikipedia search reveals a man who believes self-referential systems are the primary causes of consciousness. Sweet! Sounds like a good idea.

        A constantly self-referential system, combined with self-reinforcing neural networks (where each newly acquired memory affects memories already formed), combined with a nearly infinite array of contexts in which to operate in sounds sufficiently complex to describe all the many ways people act. I will definitely have to investigate further!

        And yeah, you got a point about the strictly on or off state of neurons. Unfortunately, there's a threshold to meet; in biological systems, there must be a certain level of excitement that a neuron must receive before it fires. It's this extremely variable threshold that might account for the less-than-linear processes of the brain. Heard of astrocytes?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrocytes

        These cells are responsible for a lot of things, chief among them they help facilitate the firing of neurons, and one astrocyte could connect to many thousands or millions of neurons, either prohibiting or stimulating neuronal transmissions via certain chemical reactions in the brain. One more system that must be accounted for in some way.

        OH! As for quantum interactions happening to macro-scale objects, well. . . Just you take a look at this.

        http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/aaron_o_connell_making_sense_of_a_visible_quantum_object.html

        Sure, they had to super-cool the material---but macro-scale quantum interactions are possible. Who's to say they don't have some other property that makes them viable at room temperature, like with DNA?
        • Mar 11 2012: Hey. Yep, definitely heard of astrocytes and other glia cells; I quite enjoy neuroscience! Scientists once thought that glia simply and only held the brains neurons in place. But we now know that glia assist with function as well as structure.

          As for the quantum phenomena thing. Quantum phenomena only happen at specific scales of size and temp, right? Again, I'm not a theoretical physicist and I am not a biologist; I could certainly be wrong in my assumptions. But I'm sticking with it: the human body/brain is way too big and way too warm to have quantum phenomena significantly affecting brain/mind processes such as consciousness. Even a receptor protein in the brain is too big for quantum phenomena (I believe). And the brain is way too crowded and hot (lots of kinetic energy (motion)) going on. Quantum phenomena may exist for nanoseconds in isolated parts of the brain (maybe). But any spreading of wave function, tunneling, will collapse into the most probabilistic single state immediately. Brain processes typically happen at the millisecond or longer time scale (I believe).

          I remain in my position: the human brain is too big, too hot, and too wet (molecules and elementary particles continually interacting with each other) to have quantum phenomena playing any significant role in brain function (of course, I could be wrong).

          I believe research into self-referential systems is a better path towards understanding and replicating human consciousness.
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        Mar 11 2012: Well, I'm not gonna try to convince you if you've already decided it can't happen. But that quantum phenomenon for smell receptors, while still hotly debated and contested, does have a pretty loyal following.

        They're also discussing the role of quantum mechanics in photosynthesis. Another hot, wet environment.

        http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/03/25/quantum-smell/
        • Mar 11 2012: Hey! Yeah, I'm not saying it can't happen. I'm saying the probabilities are so small that, personally, I don't believe it is happening.

          My reasoning again: Nothing is in isolation in the human body. Even a single electron interacting with a receptor is interacting with that receptor. Any quantum phenomena will instantly "evaporate" due to constant interactions. Even if the electron is moving just close enough to the receptor as to not classically interact with it, the electron (and any superpositioning) is constantly being bombarded by extra (and intra) cellular fluid that contains particles. Some as small as ions. I just don't see their being enough time for quantum phenomenon to play any role other than the deep role quantum phenomena play in all matter.

          Consciousness is a product of the overall brain, right? It doesn't seem to come from any specific area ( I could be wrong here, but I believe this is the case). And the overall brain is a relatively large, wet, and hot object with no parts in the vacuum style isolation or near zero temperatures required for quantum phenomena to do their weird quantum thing.

          As far as the smell receptor thing goes. I don't believe smell receptors are isolated enough either. There are air and bio structures constantly interacting with odorants and with the receptors of the olfactory tissues.

          There's just too much going on in a relatively extremely chaotic environment for any non-classical phenomenon to emerge.

          But again, I'm no expert. I just don't see it being possible. How do you propose this stuff works? Don't objects have to be in unimaginably cold, extremely small, and/or extremely solid states to perform quantum phenomena? How do the researchers in the articles you posted know that quantum phenomena is taking place? Isn't there proposed idea simply a hypothesis?
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        Mar 12 2012: Well, they've done extensive testing, from what I can gather, but nothing definitively conclusive. They've come close, though. Check out the wikipedia article on it:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibration_theory_of_olfaction

        But if you're looking for more *solid* proof of quantum mechanics at work in hot, wet environments on the macro-scale, further research into photosynthesis has proven rather fruitful:

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203131356.htm

        Of course, it won't satisfy you're wishing to be "certain". They had to cool the algae down by a lot in order to even be able to track the way the energy moved through the protein, which leaves their results ambiguous at best. But, I would hazard to say that, to even notice such an effect operating on a protein to begin with, there must be *something* in it that makes such a design practical.

        The following article elaborates a bit better on which quantum principle is being employed; it's an application of "quantum computing" according to the article. Haven't actually explored more of this phenomenon (it's mid-semester for me, so I've been rather busy with studying) but, the idea that larger scale applications of certain aspects of quantum mechanics is not only *possible* but occurs naturally seems to be a semi-legit, if not just merely tolerated, one:

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=when-it-comes-to-photosynthesis-plants-perform-quantum-computation

        All in all, it seems like, IF something that has to do with the conversion of light into energy can use a quantum computing principle to find the most efficient route by making the light go *all* the routes until it finds the most efficient one, why couldn't something similar happen in the brain?

        At the very least, it warrants further research; the self-referential loop theory of consciousness, while a worthwhile research pursuit in it's own right, is no more or less worthwhile than this appears to be right now.
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        Mar 12 2012: As for which parts of the brain do what, according to this diagram, the frontal lobe is in control of consciousness:

        http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih2/addiction/activities/lesson1_brainparts.htm
        • Mar 12 2012: I believe consciousness is largely thought to be a distributed process rather than a localized one. But yeah, I think there is evidence to suggest that some processes of consciousness are disturbed when there is damage to the frontal lobe. I believe sense of self is disturbed in some ways. Anyway...

          I think self-referential loop is more worthwhile because it doesn't have to prove that it exists. There are many questions about the very existence of quantum phenomenon in the body or on macro, warm scales in general.

          We can already see that self-referential systems exist in the brain as the very act of thinking changes the way we think. We can think about something, realize and insight about it, and change the way we think. Thinking changed thinking, it referenced itself. We just need to put time and energy into tracing out the incredibly complex self-referential system that is the human brain (or at least that's how I see it).

          And a bit more about the QM thing. Again, I think my brain (my brain referencing itself) is a classical object just like an apple. My brain is bigger and hotter than an apple. Do you think it is possible to have light quantumly interact with an apple. I know people are saying that MAYBE photosynthesis takes advantage of QM, but that's a big maybe. No one is able to demonstrate it, right? Or did I miss something in the articles you provided.

          Sorry I'm talking in circles, but my point is, the brain is a classical object just like apples, my entire body (which my brain constantly interacts with instantly collapsing an superimposed spreading of wave functions). The classical object brain is the seat of consciousness. We need a classical approach to understanding consciousness.
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        Mar 12 2012: There're a lot of people who think a lot of things. People get wrapped up in their own idea of the way things work to the point that there is no longer room for other paradigms.

        Take for instance the proliferation of computer programming languages.

        One computer programming language is Turing complete. But rather than just trying to improve that one language to implement whatever behavior or design the programmer wishes to implement, the programmer get's all hot and bothered with the language in general and decides to redesign a language from the ground up, custom-tailored to the way he thinks.

        Now there are two Turing complete languages, and rather than trying to improve one language or the other to implement whatever behavior or design the programmer wishes to implement, the programmer get's all hot and bothered with the language in genral and decides to redesign a language that takes the elements from both languages he likes and adds additional functionality that better supports the design he wishes to implement.

        Now there're three Turing complete languages, any one of which will do whatever it was you wanted to do to begin with.

        What I'm getting at here is that just because QM doesn't necessarily jive with *your* paradigm of the brain, humanity, and the world in general, doesn't make it any more or less worthwhile. And if self-referential loops *truly* explained the concept of consciousness better, wouldn't we, I dunno, have conscious machines by now?

        The whole programming thing's been around for the greater part of two centuries (if you count Ada Lovelaces' design being the first program), and recursion has been around since AT LEAST the invention of Lisp and Prolog in the 1950's-1960's. We've had 60 some-odd years to perfect the use of self-referential loops.

        Just saying it might be time to consider other alternatives, no matter how zany they may appear. Test the bajeezus out of them, and if something shakes loose, all the better.
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        Mar 12 2012: It's the "Hammer" problem. To someone with a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail. Your hammer is self-referential loops. And there's nothing wrong with that! When I got a problem that needs that particular hammer, I'd much rather go to a dude who specializes in the use of that particular tool. Assuming my problem can be solved by that tool.

        The problem is that people and the universe are either so complex physiologically with so many different moving parts, or BOTH complex and vast, that, when you add even a small amount of fuzziness about what all of these things are to begin with, they begin to serve as Rorschach tests, and people eventually just see the things they want to see in them.

        I could care less *either way*; if consciousness can be entirely explained and recreated using self-referential loops, awesome! Let's see the AI you've developed! That would make my millenium!

        Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. "What's wrong with your AI, Jim?" "Oh, it's not working." "Have you tried using a loop yet?" "Yeah, it doesn't seem to be working." "Well, you need a bigger loop." "Well, I've kinda maxed out my memory, computing cycles, and bus speed. I can't make it any bigger." "Ah, well, then, you need more of them."

        We've given it a good half-a-century, and while there may be some good life yet left in it, let's branch out a bit, pursue other avenues. Maybe we might discover something that helps us understand loops better, if nothing else.
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        Mar 13 2012: But I digress; we have focussed so heartily on whether or not QM is a viable candidate or not, we have altogether foregone the conclusion that self-referential loops do indeed give rise to conscious thought. Is that necessarily accurate? I asked Google, and here's what I found.

        My first search brought me to this paper:

        http://books.google.com/books?id=Ys5PNmv_waUC&pg=PA139&lpg=PA139&dq=Self-referential+loops+experiments+artificial+intelligence&source=bl&ots=xsyLJQ0oX9&sig=u_3VMvmGWgQ586t7YHESdoUsoz4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uLReT4OsJOjZ0QHi--GsBw&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

        which introduced the concept of Dynamical Systems theory, a search of the term which brought me here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamical_systems_theory

        which begins to outline what DST is and what it is used for, primarily the studies of systems that are "mechanical in nature" such as "Planetary orbits as well as the behaviour of electronic circuits. . . " (I hope you'll forgive the excessive use of direct quotes from the various articles; I would hate to commit plagiarism, and I am relatively unfamiliar with the subject matter at hand).

        Of particular interest in that article is the "Related Fields" section, under the "Chaos Theory" heading, part of which reads "Chaos theory describes the behavior of certain dynamical systems – that is, systems whose state evolves with time – that may exhibit dynamics that are highly sensitive to initial conditions" a statement that, if ever I wanted to apply to the study of the mechanical nature of the mind I would be hard-pressed to find a better description of.

        Getting rather curious, I clicked into the "Chaos Theory" tab, and I found, about half-way through, that my eyes kinda glazed over, because I hadn't yet found anything directly pertaining to the self-referential nature of consciousness. So I refined my search to "Chaos Theory as it pertains to self-referential loops" which yielded many things, including:

        http://paradox-point.blogspot.com/
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        Mar 13 2012: And another thing of rather great interest was this:

        http://appraisercentral.com/research/Chaos%20Theory.htm

        which was a great introduction to the history of Chaos Theory, and introduces the most basic concept that accurately reflects the field: The Butterfly Effect.

        According to the article: "The butterfly effect states that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Hong Kong can change the weather in New York. It means that a miniscule change in the initial conditions of a system, in this case the weather, is magnified greatly in the end conditions of that same system."

        Intriguing! Imagine this: The sexual act has just occurred, and an egg has just been fertilized. The First Cell begins to divide, and so on and so forth, bringing with it all that that entails; increasing body size, identifiable organs, and, slowly, consciousness. If you imagine each division of cells as 1 iteration of the loop, then each subsequent loop is like a snap-shot of every dynamical system present within that life! Not just it's awareness, but everything that that awareness is hooked into: visual, aural, olfactory, sensory, and taste. And a small, minute change in that first cellular division (maybe the egg being just a smidge higher or lower in the uterus) could drastically affect every subsequent iteration of the system!

        So what, then, does this mean for our self-referential loop model? It means that we are all just---chaos. That there is an order by which we *unfold* but that order is, by definition, a series of chaotic events. "Chaos works in order and within all order there is chaos." By this definition, market trends would be nigh impossible to predict! And yet, you can kinda guess that, if the cost of corn goes down, people will probably reduce supply in order to drive it back up. Just human nature. An order in the chaos that creates us.

        The problem, however, is scale. You may have a pattern, but you never know to what degree it will manifest itself with any given man.
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        Mar 13 2012: So what you're "really" saying when you say "Consciousness is a self-referential system" you're saying "Boy, it's a cluster of unimaginable proportions!" and rather not as simple, straight-forward, or fruitful as you made it sound! How would you isolate every possible starting condition that might give rise to a human being and ever hope to accurately replicate it, even with an iterative approach?

        What if, through some research, we discover a system of equations that we think describes how consciousness works and it produces a Lorenz-Attractor-like plot? Sure it's iterative, but it never repeats. There would be no regularity, and would give rise to none of the predictability we've come to expect from our fellow human beings.

        Unless---Unless there were some function, some mechanism, within our consciousness that, maybe, allows us to run through *every* possible thought and allows us to pick and choose which ones are relevant to us? Kinda like that QM thing?

        Unless I missed something in all these other articles, chaotic systems are unimaginably complex. I happened upon an article that talks of a guy named Poincare. I happen to know that one of the Seven Millenium Problems pertains to something called the Poincare Conjecture, and a dude named Grigori Perlman who built upon the research of a guy named Richard Hamilton and his work on using Ricci flow to attack the problem. It took a century, but they did it.

        I may be overly simplistic, but whereas QM may be unproven, at least a little bit more research could rule it out today, whereas this stuff--? If it takes as long to solve this as it did the Poincare Conjecture, we're looking at another 40-50 years easy. And let us not forget that the nature of thought and consciousness has occupied people since the VERY beginning, mathematicians and philosophers alike.

        Isaac Newton, who helped lay the foundation from which DST sprang, said, "I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people. "
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        Mar 13 2012: As is the case with all things, perhaps the truth lies somewhere between?

        If you think about our brains, not only are there loops (as you suggest) and instances of advanced parallel processing (like sorting through multiple paths and trying to settle on the most efficient one) our brains are also immense data-bases of atomic facts.

        The *sky* is *up*.

        *Grass* is *green*.

        Don't *eat* the *yellow* *snow*.

        http://cyc.com/cyc/technology/cycrandd

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyc

        Perhaps multiple loops running in parallel sort through this database of facts or *rules* if you will.

        Perhaps the decision trees that connect these facts are themselves contained in a data base, and the most efficient one gets decided upon using some QM-style phenomenon, and certain things that don't lend themselves well to recursion but where the required outputs are known could be executed via certain supervised learning methods (like with backpropogation techniques, although, continual neuron weight updates might be a certain kind of loop) and other things that do lend themselves to looping and/or the datasets are *not* known (and as such, an incremental breakdown would be necessary IF there was no rule in the database that could be modified to match the novel input).

        A combination of all these techniques would be necessary in creating a *strong* AI because, certainly, there are certain phenomenon that lend themselves better to each of these approaches than others.

        All of this means we'd have to optimize our search of the rule database itself, yes? And we could do that using---another rule. A rule about rules. One rule to rule the rules. The Golden Rule. Or just categorize the rules into sub-sets of which every rule must belong.
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        Mar 14 2012: Hey, after all that stuff, I happened to be randomly reading something on facebook and, not knowing how to work it cleverly into the conversation, just decided to blurt it out because it's tangentially related to AI.

        http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/how-to-augment-our-intelligence-as-algorithms-take-over-the-world/10588

        It's about the rise of algorithms within trading and advertising businesses and how they seem to be taking on aspects of a predator/prey relationship. It's kinda neat.

        And this:

        http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/next-breakthrough-computers-that-understand-emotions/6363

        And this:

        http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/thinking-tech/computer-types-out-messages-by-reading-your-mind/6411

        and possibly more, because I'm bored, and I don't wanna do homework on Spring Break. These all seem to be technologies geared towards "bridging the gap" using the analytical power of one and the parallel computing power of the other to create a sort of hybrid intelligence. And shore up biological deficiencies or injuries. Which is a viable possibility towards creating machine intelligence, if you think about it. Sufficent amounts of lab-born neural networks--?

        Oh yeah, and that whole thing about computer programming languages made me think about other computer programming languages---I read a while back about some programming languages whose creators had a rather vicious sense of humor. Take a look at some of 'em:

        http://computersight.com/programming/five-strangest-programming-languages/

        I think I actually might want to use the one that you have to use lolspeak in. . . Or the one that you sometimes have to ask "please" before it will run.

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