Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Artificial Intelligence Is The New Brain

By 2040 computing power should make third-generation robots with monkeylike minds possible. Such robots would learn from mental rehearsals in simulations that would model physical, cultural, and psychological factors. Physical properties would include shape, weight, strength, texture, and appearance of things and knowledge of how to handle them. Cultural aspects would include a thing’s name, value, proper location, and purpose. Psychological factors, applied to humans and other robots, would include goals, beliefs, feelings, and preferences. The simulation would track external events and would tune its models to keep them faithful to reality. This should let a robot learn by imitation and afford it a kind of consciousness. By the middle of the 21st century, fourth-generation robots may exist with humanlike mental power able to abstract and generalize. Researchers hope that such machines will result from melding powerful reasoning programs to third-generation machines. Properly educated, fourth-generation robots are likely to become intellectually formidable.

The earliest successful AI program was written in 1951 by Christopher Strachey, later director of the Programming Research Group at the University of Oxford. Strachey’s checkers (draughts) program ran on the Ferranti Mark I computer at the University of Manchester, England. By the summer of 1952 this program could play a complete game of checkers at a reasonable speed.

Information about the earliest successful demonstration of machine learning was published in 1952. Shopper, written by Anthony Oettinger at the University of Cambridge, ran on the EDSAC computer. Shopper’s simulated world was a mall of eight shops. When instructed to purchase an item, Shopper would search for it, visiting shops at random until the item was found. While searching, Shopper would memorize a few of the items stocked in each shop visited (just as a human shopper might). The next time Shopper was sent out for the same item, or for some other item that it had already located, it would go to the right shop straight away. This simple form of learning, as is pointed out in the introductory section What is intelligence?, is called rote learning.

The first AI program to run in the United States also was a checkers program, written in 1952 by Arthur Samuel for the prototype of the IBM 701. Samuel took over the essentials of Strachey’s checkers program and over a period of years considerably extended it. In 1955 he added features that enabled the program to learn from experience. Samuel included mechanisms for both rote learning and generalization, enhancements that eventually led to his program’s winning one game against a former Connecticut checkers champion in 1962.

Evolutionary computing
Samuel’s checkers program was also notable for being one of the first efforts at evolutionary computing. (His program “evolved” by pitting a modified copy against the current best version of his program, with the winner becoming the new standard.) Evolutionary computing typically involves the use of some automatic method of generating and evaluating successive “generations” of a program, until a highly proficient solution evolves.

A leading proponent of evolutionary computing, John Holland, also wrote test software for the prototype of the IBM 701 computer. In particular, he helped design a neural-network “virtual” rat that could be trained to navigate through a maze. This work convinced Holland of the efficacy of the bottom-up approach. While continuing to consult for IBM, Holland moved to the University of Michigan in 1952 to pursue a doctorate in mathematics. He soon switched, however, to a new interdisciplinary program in computers and information processing (later known as communications science) created by Arthur Burks, one of the builders of ENIAC and its successor EDVAC. In his 1959 dissertation, for most likely the world’s first computer science Ph.D., Holland proposed a new type of computer—a multiprocessor computer—that would assign each artificial neuron in a network to a separate processor. (In 1985 Daniel Hillis solved the engineering difficulties to build the first such computer, the 65,536-processor Thinking Machines Corporation supercomputer.)

Holland joined the faculty at Michigan after graduation and over the next four decades directed much of the research into methods of automating evolutionary computing, a process now known by the term genetic algorithms. Systems implemented in Holland’s laboratory included a chess program, models of single-cell biological organisms, and a classifier system for controlling a simulated gas-pipeline network. Genetic algorithms are no longer restricted to “academic” demonstrations, however; in one important practical application, a genetic algorithm cooperates with a witness to a crime in order to generate a portrait of the criminal.

Logical reasoning and problem solving
The ability to reason logically is an important aspect of intelligence and has always been a major focus of AI research. An important landmark in this area was a theorem-proving program written in 1955–56 by Allen Newell and J. Clifford Shaw of the RAND Corporation and Herbert Simon of the Carnegie Mellon University. The Logic Theorist, as the program became known, was designed to prove theorems from Principia Mathematica (1910–13), a three-volume work by the British philosopher-mathematicians Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell. In one instance, a proof devised by the program was more elegant than the proof given in the books.

Newell, Simon, and Shaw went on to write a more powerful program, the General Problem Solver, or GPS. The first version of GPS ran in 1957, and work continued on the project for about a decade. GPS could solve an impressive variety of puzzles using a trial and error approach. However, one criticism of GPS, and similar programs that lack any learning capability, is that the program’s intelligence is entirely secondhand, coming from whatever information the programmer explicitly includes.

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