Dr. Mark Humphrys

School of Computing. Dublin City University.

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AI in general

I have some general thoughts on The Philosophy and Future of AI.

In 1997 I gave a New Scientist talk on the future of AI.

In 2000 I gave an Institute of Contemporary Arts talk on the future of AI.


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:

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.

AI Links

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ancientbrain.com      w2mind.org      humphrysfamilytree.com

On the Internet since 1987.      New 200 G VPS server.

Note: Links on this site to user-generated content like Wikipedia are highlighted in red as possibly unreliable. My view is that such links are highly useful but flawed.