Re: "Armchair AI Philosophers" bad?

From: Eugen Leitl (
Date: Wed Apr 03 2002 - 01:58:47 MST

On Wed, 3 Apr 2002, Sam Kennedy wrote:

> Here, you seem to say that ordinary people pondering the issues of AI
> is a bad thing. I'd like to disagree. For one, who's to say that

It's an interesting hobby, but about as fruitful as ordinary rubes off the
street contemplating high energy physics, while not using maths nor a
particle accelerator. There's a reason natural philosophy never went
anywhere until people stopped just doing physics in their heads (recall
the familiar fallacy of "a heavier stone falls faster than a lighter
one"), and started doing experiments, which confronted them with the fact
that their ad hoc models and reality disagreed violently.

The nice thing about experimental AI is that you need a) free time b)
literature c) a $999 machine with Internet access to get started.

> "Armchair AI philosophers" can't come up with anything new? Anyways,

If I'm frozen in orthodoxy, and want to break out of it, the very first
thing I do is fish for a fresh perspective. It is usually a new fact from
the outside, not the trodden paths within your mind that do the trick.

> do we really have anything better to do? I think the interest

As a hobby, it certainly beats beer and baseball.

> non-experts have in the matter is encouraging, and these random
> ponderings can some day grow into a professional interest and talent
> in AI, on a personal level, for the person doing the pondering. So
> what if our random thoughts on the topic aren't "non-armchair"? It
> seems that the people who work hard at AI (whom I also respect very
> much), and the "Armchair AI Philosophers" aren't any closer than the
> other to the singularity.

I recommend to drop introspection and trying to extract knowledge out of
your navel and look at how reality is delivering this "Intelligence"
thing. At the very least this will be guaranteed to surprise you, and
teach you something new.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:38 MDT