Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Minsky almost killed AI

Everyone is eulogizing Marvin Minsky, the artificial intelligence. However, people have forgotten that he nearly killed the field with his book on Perceptrons.

The perceptron was a brilliant advance in the 1950s. In the last 30 years it has been improved to solve all sorts of problems. But in 1969, Minsky convinced everyone that the field was a dead-end, and progress stopped in that direction.

I am not trying to put Minsky. A lot of smart people misjudged the potential of perceptrons.

A 1972 book review said:
This book is a very interesting and penetrating study of the power of
expression of perceptrons and some other mathematical problems concerning memory and learning. This subject is still quite new and hence at a stage of development in which the most important discoveries are being done. It seems to differ from the theory of automata in its greater relevance to our ideas about the organization of the brain and the construction of "such" machines. ... It is also the first purely mathematical monograph about certain aspects of learning and perception, and this subject may become the most important theory of 20th century mathematics.
Wow, I would have said that dozens of XXc math theories were way more important. But related ideas are now being used for automatic face recognition, self-driving cars, voice commands, robotics, etc. Maybe someone will consider this a huge advance to enable our robot overlords to enslave us.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a child, I thought having thinking machines and robots would be fun. Then I grew up and found out what humans who 'think' they are superior do to people they look down upon through the ages. That people are actually endeavoring to build/construct a highly intelligent entity outside of humanity that they think they will then be able to treat like a super intelligent pet genie alarms me. What would a human do to a bunch of dim witted apes that claimed to have created him and now wanted him to do their petty bidding like a slave?

    This does not end well.