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From: "Sergio Navega" <email@example.com>
Subject: Patrick Winston's DNA
Date: 20 May 1999 00:00:00 GMT
Approved: firstname.lastname@example.org (Moderator comp.ai)
Organization: Intelliwise Research and Training
I have just received the AAAI-99 Registration Brochure and
one thing appeared to jump off the page: Patrick Henry
Winston's Keynote Address, programmed to occur during the
event (July 18-22).
On the short text describing his future speech, Patrick
mentioned that AI is a notable success from an engineering
point of view. The influence of AI techniques in other
softwares and methods may be compared to the "Nasa Effect",
the subproducts that space exploration generates to society
even if one may have difficulty in tracing the direct
connection of that technology with the space program. Hence, the
apparent difficulty of believing in the usefulness of the
whole enterprise. AI, on the engineering side of the equation,
appears to "suffer" from this very same problem: usefulness
with lack of credit.
On the other hand, AI as a scientific discipline is,
in Winston's vision, failing to fulfil its promises.
To ilustrate this concept, Patrick used an interesting
analogy that not only addresses the problem, but also
proposes some lines of action. I transcribe his thoughts
here in my own words.
He remind us that, around the 1950's, biology was in a
similar situation: antibiotics have been discovered and
put to use successfully, but on the scientific side we
had, at that time, a cloudy situation for the sciences of
life. This condition raised comments analogous to the ones
we hear today, that the field was "dead", that nothing
significant was on the horizon. Biology was stuck.
Then, it was the time of such great discoveries as that of
the DNA by Watson and Crick. An incredible amount of
scientific discoveries followed, showing again the
appropriateness of Thomas Kuhn's idea of "paradigm
Patrick continues saying that we ought to explore more
of related disciplines such as computational neuroscience and
developmental psychology (I would add, trying to generalize,
cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience). The reasons to
do that "off the main road" research is clear to me: we must
go after our "DNA".
It pays, though, to find a "candidate" for AI's DNA.
I have my own ideas, but I'm interested in hearing others.
My point here is that we should spend some time wandering,
trying to find other mountains to climb.
The main reason of this post is to express my enthusiasm
with Patrick's words and my adherence to the overall optimism
that his text transpires. We've never been so close to the essence
of intelligence. Maybe the spiral shape of "our" DNA is just
hanging in front of our noses, awaiting to be discovered.
So lets go for it.
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