Re: G. Chaitin on AI

From: Jordan Dimov (
Date: Fri Mar 01 2002 - 14:10:33 MST

  Being more of a math person, Chatin is one of my personal heroes. And I
really like the quote!

  There was a somewhat relevant and very interesting transcript of a talk
he once gave at CMU about the limits of mathematics... Wish I could find
the link.

  -- Jordan

On Fri, 1 Mar 2002, Ben Goertzel wrote:

> I was reading the book “Conversations with a Mathematician” by algorithmic
> information pioneer Gregory Chaitin today, and I found the following
> passage:
> “[M]y personal opinion is that AI is not a mathematical problem, it’s an
> engineering problem…. To me a human being is just a very complicated piece
> of engineering that’s exquisitely well-suited for surviving in this world….
> “[I]t’s very often the case that theoreticians can show that in theory
> there’s no way to solve a problem, but software engineers can find a clever
> algorithm that usually works, or that usually gives you a good approximation
> in a reasonable amount of time. And I think that human intelligence is also
> a little bit like that, and that it’s a matter of creeping up on it little
> by little, a step at a time, until we can usually do a good job imitating
> it.
> “In fact I think that we may be almost halfway there, only we don’t realize
> it, and that fifty years from now we’ll be close to a real AI, and then
> people will wonder why anyone ever thought that it was difficult to create
> an AI. This AI won’t be the result of a theorem, it’ll be a mountain of
> work, a giant engineering project that was built piece by piece, little by
> little, just like what happens in Nature. As the biologists say, God is a
> tinkerer, he cobbles things together, he patches things up, he makes do with
> what he has to create new forms of life by experimenting with sloppy little
> changes one step at a time….
> “We humans aren’t artistic masterpieces of design, we’re patched together,
> bit by bit, and retouched every time that there’s an emergency and the
> design has to be changed! We’re strange, awkward creatures, but it all sort
> of works! And I think that an AI is also going to be like that….
> “[A] working AI is going to be like some kind of Frankenstein monster that’
> s patched together bit by bit until one day we realize that the monster sort
> of works, that it’s finally intelligent enough! “
> I think he overstates the case a little bit. There is a kind of elegance
> and order to complex adaptive systems with emergent behavior, which is
> different from the elegance and order in modern mathematics. But still, I
> like his articulation of a point that has always seemed to me a piece of “AI
> common sense,” but that yet seems to elude most academic AI theorists.
> -- Ben G

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