A baby walking.
AI has traditionally concentrated on supposedly "hard" problems like chess,
and ignored supposedly "easy" problems like walking.
Walking doesn't impress us because we can all walk.
But that doesn't mean it isn't a hard problem.
It may just mean that all humans (and other animals) have solved a hard problem.
It turns out that
getting an AI to play 5-year-old level football
seems to be way harder than getting it to play adult world-class level chess.
Why I am motivated by AI
Like many in AI, I am interested both in engineering
(building new types of machines, that provably work)
and also in science
(types of machines that might possibly have something to say to cognitive science).
So I invent arbitrary artificial systems,
but I invent them with a vague biological motivation in the background.
Basically, I am interested in types of AI that
could plausibly have evolved in nature.
I think that How the mind works is the great scientific quest
of our age, and AI will have some part to play in it.
What exactly that part will be is as yet uncertain.
So right now you can call AI engineering if you like,
but it seems to me that AI has as good (if not better) an idea
of what complex minds can be as anyone has in cognitive science.
My scientific heroes
are not necessarily the greatest technical scientists,
but rather they are the ones who changed the world the most.
Great science conflicts with deeply-embedded, emotional folk-myths,
it cannot be accommodated by them.
Great science forces us to think again,
and look beyond the lazy answers of the past.
My top two most dangerous thinkers in the history of the world are:
- The turning point in human history.
Still incendiary and revolutionary a hundred years after his death.
- Still revolutionary as we speak.
Much of modern philosophy, psychology,
AI, linguistics, religion, theology, education
and popular culture
is still dominated by a simplistic pre-Darwinian world view.
I suppose there should also be on this list the dangerous idea that the human mind, lock, stock and barrel,
is a machine that works according to normal physical principles.
But it is a community that developed this one,
and ultimately it too goes back to Darwin.