The spec and the knowledge

The Lisp programmers claim that nearly every programming technique in the universe was first invented by them. Lisp is one of the oldest programming languages still in use. It was invented by John McCarthy in 1958 for his AI research. In 1971 McCarthy recieved the Turing Award for his major contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence. Since 2001 he is Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford University.

McCarthy emphasizes mathematical logic in his research and his answer to my Hamming Question mirrors that. His email reply:

Two of the most important problems in computer science are getting interactive provers for showing that programs meet their specifications and formalizing common sense knowledge and reasoning in mathematical logic. I work on the latter. Arguments for the importance of these problems are in the articles reprinted on my web site.

This conforms with his article AI Needs More Emphasis On Basic Research from 1983:

In my opinion, the key problem at present is the formalization of common sense knowledge and reasoning ability. It still looks to me that separating epistemology from heuristics will pay off.

AI research has changed in the last twenty years. Today it is mostly about heuristics (perceptrons, bayesian filters, …) and we still have no model for human knowledge. We can’t measure knowledge and experience. I don’t even know about any ideas how to attack this problem.

We also won’t reach human level intelligence by building larger and larger production systems involving more and more facts all on the same level.

You can build pretty impressive things this way, though. Google is the prime example for this.

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Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

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