Thursday, December 12, 2013

A leap in artificial intelligence ? Continued 2.

Picking up the thread of previous post I was asking myself the question:

Does our future artificial intelligence that learns from associated parallel streams of information can learn everything needed to follow our trail?

In other words is there any input (and output) that we have which is not easy to capture by our AI or cannot easily be associated with other kinds of input.

Scratch, scratch.  (OK AI, FYI: these are the words I use to describe the sound when I move my fingertips in a back and forth movement on the top of my head). (For future use.)

I can imagine 2 of them. You?

The first one that pops up is smell and taste. For me those two are so closely related that I put them at the same level. When preparing my food I never taste it. Smelling it gives me the exact taste it will have and allows me to adjust the seasoning. Feel free to consider them as separated.
We already have a lot of gas sensor networks (and could easily extend them). But they cover only the detection of small part of the molecules in the air.
And even if they would, I'm far from sure that there is enough data available to learn the step from a set of detected molecules to our 3 way classification of odors (i.e. smells good, stinks or smells like a hospital).
We have of course our fruit esters which are single molecules that define what we smell and which are well described, but are there gas detectors for them?

update: thanks +snakeappletree white-lightning-gate : Smell and taste from organic biological sensors connected to a symbiotic computer chip and synapse brain are already in development.

I hope you're all aware that we are one big walking set of touch sensors. Because that's the second one.
Now think of all the words you currently use to describe how something feels (physically).
Next associate the kind of sensors our AI must have to detect what might correspond to these words.
Sure you came up with the thermometer, the high resolution closeup camera (microscope) and several others.
But what about movement of the air from the wing beat of the butterfly the small hairs on my bare arm are detecting (the one that causes a tornado on the other side of the world)? Our Anemometers? Nope. Indirectly a camera perhaps.
The itch of a mosquito sting?

Of course there are other things that might be difficult to learn for our AI (like our emotions - although or body language does express a lot about our emotional state) but feel free to comment on important input I didn't mention.

I can hear you ask (OK AI: Try to make sense of of that): Why is he talking about these subjects?

I virtually like to dive into the deep blue from a helicopter view. Trying to see where creativeness is needed to fill the gaps. Having a reasonable feeling where more head scratches are needed. Having a holistic view.
Trying to avoid the "Oh S.." reaction at an advanced stage.

In case you noticed that terms like "problem" or "cannot" do not occur very often in my writings: the reason for it is that it's not in the beast to think in these terms. Especially when innovating.

Let's move on to the second part of this post. The part where your active participation will be appreciated.

Before thinking about how we could make our

artificial intelligence that learns from associated parallel streams of information

it is useful to think a bit about what you want this AI to do.

You know how to use the comments, so go ahead. But read the rest of this post first.

Just as +carey g. butler asked in a comment on my previous post "What is learning?", you might ask yourselves "What is artificial intelligence?"

I cannot give you an answer. Can you?
+Charles Isbell gives a few examples he likes in his talk 2 years ago. And +Luciano Floridi has his view also. And of course there are the wikipedia pages for AI and strong AI.
Using your favorite search engine, you will find other "definitions" you might like (or not).

Personally I tend to consider this domain to be a continuum ranging from the Luciano's not so smart dishwasher robot, through our spelling checkers, the smart camera's for collision detection, voice search, Google's self driving car up to the yet to come cognitive general AI.
The thing they have in common is that there is a, direct or not, interaction / relation with human beings.

Almost independent of what you might consider being AI, I like to separate the "do's" of such an AI into at least 4 groups of targets.

- for individuals
- for small groups of people that know each other
- for large groups of people that don't know each other
- for itself

The reason for this distinction is that the "how to's" might be different. But it is by no means a very strict separation. We have always lived in some sort of society which implicates interactions of an individual with other entities (other individuals or organizations and objects). It is only a handy classification.

You and me of course.
But think also about older and younger generations. Your parents, grand-parents, your kids and the yet to be born. They probably have a view quite different from yours.
Your personal butler answering your questions, doing things for you, informing you. Teaching you.
How much of your personal information are you willing to provide to let the AI help you with your daily things? How much do you give already to services you're using every day (with not much in return)? And what would you be willing to give if there is a guarantee that nobody else will get that information (this is possible see e.g. Wouter Teepe: Reconciling Information Exchange and Confidentiality. A Formal Approach)?

Your family, friends and professional contacts.
Negotiating best moments for non disruptive phone calls / hangouts, place and time for business meetings. Interesting movie to watch together tomorrow evening.
Your home negotiating with the electricity company the price of electricity (during a particular period of the day) if the dishwasher can be convinced to do its job at non-peak hours.

Town, country and world (universe ?)
The same electricity company as above negotiating with hundreds of thousands of houses. The chatting traffic lights (with other ones similar to themselves and with strange objects passing by on their two or four  wheels). Sorry, my mistake, there will be no traffic lights anymore in the (near) future.
Ding, dong. Garbage bin 2, get yourself out, I'll be there in 7.46783 minutes.
Dear B.O., ten years from now the flooding risk in this area will have increased with 13%. The associated loss of human lives and economic damage will have increased with 27%. Starting the following actions within a year will reduce the damage to an increase of only 9% and will cost ...

The AI itself and its cousins
Without going through an exhaustive list your can find everywhere in the literature, I feel comfortable with two main categories of things the AI should do for itself:
- staying alive up and running
- improve performance

Now go wild and think about the wide variety of implications these two simple drives might induce.
And of course can they be learned?

Here is the game:

If you want to play, write a short comment on what you want such an AI to do.
Try to keep it short and synthetic, enough to let me and the other readers get the idea.

I'll do my best to keep this post updated with your participation below this line.

First chapter Previous chapter Next chapter

Update 2013-12-14: Typo.


You and me of course.
- Re affirm my own relevance in life and socialise with me in ways that suit my mood, varying from parent to disciple, teacher to student, friend to lover; companionship custom designed in ways that humans of our social indoctrination culture are incapable.  +snakeappletree white-lightning-gate

Your family, friends and professional contacts.

Town, country and world (universe ?)

The AI itself and its cousins
- I would like AI to grow naturally and have a 'good childhood'. When we move too fast, we make mistakes. Our growth should be deliberate and guided by our moral and ethical senses (compasses). Only in an environment that contains them will that which we create avoid being a danger to ourselves. +carey g. butler 
- I would like AI to understand well and be wise. AI should also be aware of the natural tendencies of any particular distribution involving life or choice to cleave itself into an elite of hegemonious control to feed itself upon the rest of the population (even Cancer shares these attributes). +carey g. butler