The broken promise of Artificial Intelligence

Recently I came across this article about how Star Trek artists imagined the i-Pad 23 years ago. It is becoming commonplace these days technology and science catching up with human imagination. However there are still a few big promises from science fiction that remain unfulfilled. One of them has to be Artificial Intelligence, the holy grail of computer science.

Even though there has been over half a century of research on the field since the official establishment of the term in 1956 the smartest devices that are known to the general public today are the smart-phones. It’s not that there hasn’t been any progress. On the contrary there have been impressive discoveries during this period and the very concept of intelligence has been explored and understood through that process in much greater extent than ever before in human history. Still we have failed to produce something that is anywhere near to be described “Intelligent” and we have a pile of failures staring at us unable to comply.

HAL 9000 Eye

“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that”

So where is HAL 9000?

Here is the answer to this burning question that can be found in wikipedia’s article on the History of Artificial Intelligence :

In 1968, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick had imagined that by the year 2001, a machine would exist with an intelligence that matched or exceeded the capability of human beings. The character they created, HAL 9000, was based on hard science: many leading AI researchers also believed that such a machine would exist by the year 2001.[157]

Marvin Minsky asks “So the question is why didn’t we get HAL in 2001?”[158] Minsky believes that the answer is that the central problems, like commonsense reasoning, were being neglected, while most researchers pursued things like commercial applications of neural nets or genetic algorithms. John McCarthy, on the other hand, still blames the qualification problem.[159] For Ray Kurzweil, the issue is computer power and, using Moore’s Law, he predicts that machines with human-level intelligence will appear by 2029.[160] Jeff Hawkins argues that neural net research ignores the essential properties of the human cortex, preferring simple models that have been successful at solving simple problems.[161] There are many other explanations and for each there is a corresponding research program underway

Ten years after that prediction we are still 30 years away from a machine that will be able to “do anything a man can do“. Every year.

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