Re: What's going on this decade?

Date: Tue Aug 08 2006 - 16:27:19 MDT

I'm young and I was thinking the same thing just the other day. This decade has
been one of rampant conservatism and mediocrity, not just in the sciences as
you point out, but in the creative arts as well (politics is so obvious its not
worth more than a parenthesis). Film, music and games have had fringe indie
activity that is semi-interesting, but there haven't really been any major
innovations. I've got a lot of hope for the tail of this decade as reversing
the trend, as there seems to be a lot of burgeoning AGI effort that might show
fruit, and interesting threads in interactive entertainment that could converge
in interesting ways. So far, however, this decade is truly deserving of being
called "the Nils".


Quoting Philip Goetz <>:

> I'm archiving a bunch of articles from the 1990s, and remembering how
> exciting that decade was. We had a lot of new ideas about AI
> architectures, such as situated activity, hybrid architectures,
> dynamical-systems architectures; not to mention the continuing fallout
> from the 1980s over connectionism and reactive behavior. We had
> reinforcement learning, latent semantic analysis, statistical natural
> language processing, wavelets, and hidden Markov models for the first
> decent speech recognition. We had people trying to deal with action
> selection and attention in cognitive archtectures for the first time.
> We had functional MRI, brain function localization, and the decoding
> of population representations, temporal spike train coding, and
> chaotic basins of attraction in the brain. We had decent compression
> for the first time - gzip and MPEG. We had genetic algorithms,
> genetic programming, nonlinear science, self-organizing systems, "the
> edge of chaos", artificial life, virtual reality, the World Wide Web,
> Linux and open-source, developed the theory of quantum computers, had
> the first nanocomputer designs, solved the first tough problems with
> biocomputers. We also developed most of the transhumanist ideas that
> we're still playing with today.
> I could list a lot of things from the 1980s, also. But I can't think
> of much that was kicked off in this decade that's as exciting as any
> of the things I just mentioned from the 1990s. Support vector
> machines? Blogs? Web services? Greasemonkey? Micropayments?
> Outsourcing? That's all I can think of at the moment. Am I getting
> old? Am I out of the loop? What's going on out there? I can't even
> think of any new movements in science fiction from the 2000s.
> There are some exciting things in other fields - genome sequencing
> (developed in the 1990s), RNA interference, gene therapy (largely
> 1990s also), microarray protein expression analysis - but I can't
> think of much in AI/comp sci/math that excites me lately.
> Perhaps this is because I left the university in 1997 and went to work
> in industry - but, I never found out about any of those exciting
> things from my university classes anyway, so that explanation doesn't
> satisfy me.

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