Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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The Search for the Universal Algorithm Continues

Why does machine learning always seem to be rounding a corner, only to eventually hit a wall?

DeepMind, a part of Alphabet (i.e., Google), has made many headlines in the past. The biggest was its development of AlphaGo, which used reinforcement learning to beat the number one Go player at the time (2017). DeepMind generalized this into AlphaZero, which is supposedly able to solve any two-player game of perfect information. DeepMind has come back into headlines recently with the attempt to build an AI which can generate any algorithm. While they are starting with map data, the goal is to generalize this and generate any desired algorithm. The search for such a “universal algorithm” has been essentially equivalent to the search for a perpetual motion machine in physics. The allure of both is obvious. In physics, if you…

Cyber security concept.

The 2020 AI Dirty Dozen Hyped Stories: Countdown by Bradley Center Brain Trust Members

Is AI fundamentally flawed? Can Elon Musk merge man with machines? Will there ever be self-driving cars? Join us as we revisit the top 12 most over-hyped stories in artificial intelligence from 2020 with Robert J. Marks, Jonathan Bartlett, and Eric Holloway. Show Notes 00:01:10 | Introducing Jonathan Bartlett 00:01:37 | Introducing Dr. Eric Holloway 00:02:00 | #12: “The way…

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Why AI Chess Champs Are Not Taking Over the World

Mastery of closed-world games does not mean that AI can take over and run everything

At one time, the AI that beat humans at chess calculated strategies by studying the outcomes of human moves. Then, it turned out, there was a faster way: In October 2017, the DeepMind team published details of a new Go-playing system, AlphaGo Zero, that studied no human games at all. Instead, it started with the game’s rules and played against itself. The first moves it made were completely random. After each game, it folded in new knowledge of what led to a win and what didn’t. At the end of these scrimmages, AlphaGo Zero went head to head with the already superhuman version of AlphaGo that had beaten Lee Sedol. It won 100 games to zero. Joshua Sokol, “Why Artificial…

mannequin actors
Group of head mannequin or dummy in fashion shop.

#9: Erica the Robot Stars in a Film. But Really, Does She?

This is just going to be a fancier Muppets movie, Eric Holloway predicts, with a bit more electronics

Our Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been interviewing fellow computer nerds (our Brain Trust) Jonathan Bartlett and Eric Holloway about 12 overhyped AI concepts of the year. Lots of stuff happened and it’s the time of year for fun and entertainment! So here’s #9: Erica the Robot, from Japan, is to star in a film (filming begins in 2021): #9 starts at about 16:58 A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. A link to the complete transcript follows the Additional Resources. Robert J. Marks: Okay. We are counting down the Dirty Dozen hyped AI stories of 2020, and we’re at #9. In June 2020 in The Hollywood Reporter, we learned of the robot in the…

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AI Dirty Dozen 2020 Part I

There are many forces that shape the hyped AI stories we read. Media is everywhere and competition is fierce. Articles with provocative headlines and content are clickbait for the browsing consumer. We’re going to count down the AI Dirty Dozen: the top twelve AI hyped stories for 2020. Join Dr. Robert J. Marks as he discusses some of these stories with…

Fembot Robot Playing Chess with Woman

Are Computers That Win at Chess Smarter Than Geniuses?

No, and we need to look at why they can win at chess without showing even basic common sense

Big computers conquered chess quite easily. But then there was the Chinese game of go (pictured), estimated to be 4000 years old, which offers more “degrees of freedom” (possible moves, strategy, and rules) than chess (2×10170). As futurist George Gilder tells us, in Gaming AI, it was a rite of passage for aspiring intellects in Asia: “Go began as a rigorous rite of passage for Chinese gentlemen and diplomats, testing their intellectual skills and strategic prowess. Later, crossing the Sea of Japan, Go enthralled the Shogunate, which brought it into the Japanese Imperial Court and made it a national cult.” (p. 9) Then AlphaGo, from Google’s DeepMind, appeared on the scene in 2016: As the Chinese American titan Kai-Fu Lee…

Intelligent robot cyborg using digital globe interface 3D rendering

Why AI Geniuses Think They Can Create True Thinking Machines

Early on, it seemed like a string of unbroken successes …

In George Gilder’s telling, the story goes back to Bletchley Park, where British codebreakers broke the “unbreakable” Nazi ciphers. In Gaming AI, the tech philosopher and futurist traces the modern concept of a machine that really thinks for itself back to its earliest known beginnings. Free for download, his concise book also explains why the programmers were bound to fail in their quest for the supermachine. But let’s start with why they thought—and many today still think— it could work. Success emboldened the pioneers to dream of a final AI triumph They had every reason to be emboldened by success. Special computers called “bombes,” created by Alan Turing’s team, broke every version of the famous Enigma code used by the…

Robot concept or robot hand chatbot pressing computer keyboard enter

Can a Machine Really Write for the New Yorker?

If AI wins at chess and Go, why not? Then someone decided to test that…

Tech philosopher and futurist George Gilder (pictured) has a new book out, Gaming AI. Short and sweet, it explains how artificial intelligence (AI) will—and won’t—revolutionize the economy and human life. Get your free digital copy here. And now, below is a short piece he wrote, unpacking one of the book’s themes—the claim that AI can do anything that humans can do. Find out why he says no: Ilya Sutskever (pictured) may be the smartest man in the world you have never heard of. No sweat, I hadn’t heard of him either. Still under 40, he’s part of the all-male Google mindfest around “Google Brain.” His IQ honed at Open University of Israel and mentored by Artificial Intelligence (AI) pioneer Geoffrey…

The robot writes with a pen and looks at the computer monitor. Artificial Intelligence

Bingecast: Selmer Bringsjord on the Lovelace Test

The Turing test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from a human. Many think that Turing’s proposal for intelligence, especially creativity, has been proven inadequate. Is the Lovelace test a better alternative? What are the capabilities and limitations of AI? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Selmer Bringsjord discuss…

close-up view of robot playing chess, selective focus

Bingecast: Robert J. Marks on the Limitations of Artificial Intelligence

Robert J. Marks talks with Larry L. Linenschmidt of the Hill Country Institute about nature and limitations of artificial intelligence from a computer science perspective including the misattribution of creativity and understanding to computers. Other Larry L. Linenschmidt podcasts from the Hill Country Institute are available at HillCountryInstitute.org. We appreciate the permission of the Hill Country Institute to rebroadcast this…

Flying futuristic central processing unit. electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program performing arithmetic, logic, controlling.

Coronavirus: Is Data Mining Failing Its First Really Big Test?

Computers scanning thousands of paper don’t seem to be providing answers for COVID-19

If Alphabet’s Deep Mind or Microsoft had successfully data mined the 29,000 papers and found useful coronavirus information, that would be pretty impressive. But they appear to be giving others a chance to try instead, raising issues once again about the value of data mining in medicine.

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Thinking Machines? Has the Lovelace Test Been Passed?

Surprising results do not equate to creativity. Is there such a thing as machine creativity?

The feats of machines like AlphaGo are due to superior computational power, not to creativity at originating new ideas. Computer scientist Selmer Bringsjord sees the ability to write, say, a novel of ideas as a more realistic test of human vs. computer achievement.

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The Turing Test is Dead. Long Live The Lovelace Test

The Turing test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour indistinguishable from a human. Many think that Turing’s proposal for intelligence, especially creativity, has been proven inadequate. Is the Lovelace test a better alternative? Robert J. Marks and Dr. Selmer Bringsjord discuss the Turing test, the Lovelace test, and machine…


The Unexpected and the Myth of Creative Computers – Part II

Robert J. Marks talks with Larry L. Linenschmidt of the Hill Country Institute about the misattribution of creativity and understanding to computers. This is Part 2 of 2 parts. Other Larry L. Linenschmidt podcasts from the Hill Country Institute are available at HillCountryInstitute.org. We appreciate the permission of the Hill Country Institute to rebroadcast this podcast on Mind Matters. Show…


Former Microsoft Head of Research: Machines Will Soon Know Better Than Your Doctor

Other experts at the COSM Technology Summit were skeptical of Craig Mundie’s claims

Mundie, former Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer, formerly told his audience that Big Data will enable each person to be “completely understood” by machines that can produce a computer facsimile of each detail. It would be far too complex for human physicians to make sense of, he said.

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Game's white and black stone on cross board.

Alpha Go as Alpha Maybe?

DeepMind's AlphaGo defeated a world-champion Go player but further gains were hard won at best
The question scientists must ask, especially about an unexpected finding, is, if no one can reproduce your results, did you discover something new or did you just get lucky? With AI that’s not easy, due to dependence on randomness. Read More ›
the game of go
the game of go

Why AI Appears To Create Things

When AlphaGo made a winning move, it exhibited no more creative insight than when it played pedestrian moves

Our surprise at AlphaGo’s move says more about our inability to predict what a program will do than about any creative effort of the program. We’ve known for decades that we cannot predict the results of any moderately complex computer program.

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Deep Learning won’t solve AI

AlphaGo pioneer: We need “another dozen or half-a-dozen breakthroughs”
Hassabis: "AlphaGo doesn't understand language but we would like them to build up to this symbolic level of reasoning — maths, language, and logic. Read More ›