Artificial intelligence

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"A.I." redirects here. For the Steven Spielberg film see A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
Toyota Partner Robot: The walking type playing the trumpet.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chances of success. John McCarthy, who coined the term in 1955, defines it as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines."


  • In 1956, Herb Simon... predicted that within ten years computers would beat the world chess champion, compose "aesthetically satisfying" original music, and prove new mathematical theorems. It took forty years, not ten, but all these goals were achieved—and within a few years of each other! The music composed by David Cope's programs cannot be distinguished... from that composed by Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. In 1976, a computer was used in the proof of the long-unsolved "four color problem."
    • Michael J. Beeson, "The Mechanization of Mathematics," in Alan Turing: Life and Legacy of a Great Thinker (2004)
  • "There is no security"--to quote his own words--"against the ultimate development of mechanical consciousness, in the fact of machines possessing little consciousness now. A mollusc has not much consciousness. Reflect upon the extraordinary advance which machines have made during the last few hundred years, and note how slowly the animal and vegetable kingdoms are advancing. The more highly organized machines are creatures not so much of yesterday, as of the last five minutes, so to speak, in comparison with past time.
“Either,” he proceeds, “a great deal of action that has been called purely mechanical and unconscious must be admitted to contain more elements of consciousness than has been allowed hitherto (and in this case germs of consciousness will be found in many actions of the higher machines)—Or (assuming the theory of evolution but at the same time denying the consciousness of vegetable and crystalline action) the race of man has descended from things which had no consciousness at all. In this case there is no à priori improbability in the descent of conscious (and more than conscious) machines from those which now exist, except that which is suggested by the apparent absence of anything like a reproductive system in the mechanical kingdom.
  • “Herein lies our danger. For many seem inclined to acquiesce in so dishonourable a future. They say that although man should become to the machines what the horse and dog are to us, yet that he will continue to exist, and will probably be better off in a state of domestication under the beneficent rule of the machines than in his present wild condition. We treat our domestic animals with much kindness. We give them whatever we believe to be the best for them; and there can be no doubt that our use of meat has increased their happiness rather than detracted from it. In like manner there is reason to hope that the machines will use us kindly, for their existence will be in a great measure dependent upon ours; they will rule us with a rod of iron, but they will not eat us; they will not only require our services in the reproduction and education of their young, but also in waiting upon them as servants; in gathering food for them, and feeding them; in restoring them to health when they are sick; and in either burying their dead or working up their deceased members into new forms of mechanical existence.
  • The power of custom is enormous, and so gradual will be the change, that man's sense of what is due to himself will be at no time rudely shocked; our bondage will steal upon us noiselessly and by imperceptible approaches; nor will there ever be such a clashing of desires between man and the machines as will lead to an encounter between them. Among themselves the machines will war eternally, but they will still require man as the being through whose agency the struggle will be principally conducted. In point of fact there is no occasion for anxiety about the future happiness of man so long as he continues to be in any way profitable to the machines; he may become the inferior race, but he will be infinitely better off than he is now. Is it not then both absurd and unreasonable to be envious of our benefactors? And should we not be guilty of consummate folly if we were to reject advantages which we cannot obtain otherwise, merely because they involve a greater gain to others than to ourselves?
“With those who can argue in this way I have nothing in common. I shrink with as much horror from believing that my race can ever be superseded or surpassed, as I should do from believing that even at the remotest period my ancestors were other than human beings. Could I believe that ten hundred thousand years ago a single one of my ancestors was another kind of being to myself, I should lose all self-respect, and take no further pleasure or interest in life. I have the same feeling with regard to my descendants, and believe it to be one that will be felt so generally that the country will resolve upon putting an immediate stop to all further mechanical progress, and upon destroying all improvements that have been made for the last three hundred years. I would not urge more than this. We may trust ourselves to deal with those that remain, and though I should prefer to have seen the destruction include another two hundred years, I am aware of the necessity for compromising, and would so far sacrifice my own individual convictions as to be content with three hundred. Less than this will be insufficient.”
  • The question of whether a computer is playing chess, or doing long division, or translating Chinese, is like the question of whether robots can murder or airplanes can fly -- or people; after all, the "flight" of the Olympic long jump champion is only an order of magnitude short of that of the chicken champion (so I'm told). These are questions of decision, not fact; decision as to whether to adopt a certain metaphoric extension of common usage.
  • I have grown accustomed to the disrespect expressed by some of the participants for their colleagues in the other disciplines. "Why, Dan," ask the people in artificial intelligence, "do you waste your time conferring with those neuroscientists? They wave their hands about 'information processing' and worry about where it happens, and which neurotransmitters are involved, but they haven't a clue about the computational requirements of higher cognitive functions." "Why," ask the neuroscientists, "do you waste your time on the fantasies of artificial intelligence? They just invent whatever machinery they want, and say unpardonably ignorant things about the brain." The cognitive psychologists, meanwhile, are accused of concocting models with neither biological plausibility nor proven computational powers; the anthropologists wouldn't know a model if they saw one, and the philosophers, as we all know, just take in each other's laundry, warning about confusions they themselves have created, in an arena bereft of both data and empirically testable theories. With so many idiots working on the problem, no wonder consciousness is still a mystery. All these charges are true, and more besides, but I have yet to encounter any idiots. Mostly the theorists I have drawn from strike me as very smart people – even brilliant people, with the arrogance and impatience that often comes with brilliance – but with limited perspectives and agendas, trying to make progress on the hard problems by taking whatever shortcuts they can see, while deploring other people's shortcuts. No one can keep all the problems and details clear, including me, and everyone has to mumble, guess and handwave about large parts of the problem.
  • Recent researchers in artificial intelligence and computational methods use the term swarm intelligence to name collective and distributed techniques of problem solving without centralized control or provision of a global model. … the intelligence of the swarm is based fundamentally on communication. … the member of the multitude do not have to become the same or renounce their creativity in order to communicate and cooperate with each other. They remain different in terms of race, sex, sexuality and so forth. We need to understand, then, is the collective intelligence that can emerge from the communication and cooperation of such varied multiplicity.
  • The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can't know if we'll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it.
  • A computer program written by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has come up with a major mathematical proof that would have been called creative if a human had thought of it. In doing so, the computer has, for the first time, got a toehold into pure mathematics, a field described by its practitioners as more of an art form than a science. ...Dr. McCune's proof concerns a conjecture that is the very epitome of pure mathematics. ...His computer program proved that a set of three equations is equivalent to a Boolean algebra...
    • Gina Kolata, "With Major Math Proof, Brute Computers Show Flash of Reasoning Power" The New York Times (Dec 10, 1996)
  • Any aeai [A.I., artificial intelligence] smart enough to pass a Turing test is smart enough to know to fail it.
An ontology represents knowledge as a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts.
  • Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men
    • Marvin Minsky (1968) quoted by: Blay Whitby (1996) Reflections on Artificial Intelligence. p. 20
  • A century ago, we had essentially no way to start to explain how thinking works. Then psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget produced their theories about child development. Somewhat later, on the mechanical side, mathematicians like Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing began to reveal the hitherto unknown range of what machines could be made to do. These two streams of thought began to merge only in the 1940s, when Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts began to show how machines might be made to see, reason, and remember. Research in the modern science of Artificial Intelligence started only in the 1950's, stimulated by the invention of modern computers. This inspired a flood of new ideas about how machines could do what only minds had done previously.
  • A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.
  • Can those who believe the computer is "an embodiment of mind" really not tell the difference between so poorly a caricature and the true original?
  • There is probably no more abused a term in the history of philosophy than “representation,” and my use of this term differs both from its use in traditional philosophy and from its use in contemporary cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence.... The sense of “representation” in question is meant to be entirely exhausted by the analogy with speech acts: the sense of “represent” in which a belief represents its conditions of satisfaction is the same sense in which a statement represents its conditions of satisfaction. To say that a belief is a representation is simply to say that it has a propositional content and a psychological mode.
    • John Searle (1983) Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind. p. 12
  • We define a semantic network as "the collection of all the relationships that concepts have to other concepts, to percepts, to procedures, and to motor mechanisms" of the knowledge".
  • In joint scientific efforts extending over twenty years, initially in collaboration with J. C. Shaw at the RAND Corporation, and subsequently with numerous faculty and student colleagues at Carnegie-Mellon University, they have made basic contributions to artificial intelligence, the psychology of human cognition, and list processing.
  • A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.
  • The techniques of artificial intelligence are to the mind what bureaucracy is to human social interaction.

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