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GUEST APPEARANCE by Paul Bassett: Cosmologist, internationally-known AI specialist, keynote speaker and published author. His second contribution on AI.

It gives me tremendous pleasure (again) in introducing my long-time friend and colleague, Paul Bassett. Paul has written a blog contribution below, which I know you will find extremely thought-provoking. Your responses are of course, solicited.

Paul Bassett photo Paul Bassett is a retired software engineer, author, entrepreneur, and inventor. His invention of Frame Technology (used around the world to automate software development) won him CIP’s Technology Innovation Award. He’s published numerous papers and a book Framing Software Reuse. Paul was a member of IEEE’s Distinguished Visitor Program, and has given keynote addresses, taught computer science at York University, and co-founded several businesses, including two successful software engineering companies. His MSc in artificial intelligence (U. of Toronto) imbued him with a life-long passion for divining the role and future life in the universe.


Is artificial intelligence intelligent? or is it just machine learning?

There are many ways to define intelligence. Almost all of them involve problem solving proficiency. Problem-solving in turn, is deeply connected to the notion of algorithm, a method for converting inputs to outputs, or in mathematics, computing a function. Every computable function* has a countably infinite number of algorithms that can compute it, each varying greatly in its proficiency – the time and memory it requires to compute its outputs.

All brains and computers work by performing algorithms*. Brains have algorithms whose outputs are algorithms. Normally, brains invent/improve algorithms that computers use, as is. But ever since computers were invented, a goal has been to enable computers to invent/improve their own algorithms, what is commonly referred to as machine learning.

Human intelligence correlates with how quickly one can learn, with the vastness of one’s knowledge, expertise, wisdom, creativity,…This somewhat vague list of attributes all boil down, as I said, to the proficiency of various algorithms. After decades of frustratingly small advances, algorithms have recently been devised that allow simulated, multi-layered neural networks to learn to become much better than any human at quite a few impressive problem domains: from playing games such as checkers, chess, backgammon, poker and go, to medical diagnoses, to language translation, to facial recognition, to driving cars, to big-data pattern recognition, and so on. These machines are said to employ deep learning (“deep” means many layers of simulated neurons, each learning a different aspect of how to solve an overall problem).

Are these machines intelligent? In their domains of expertise, YES. Do they exhibit general intelligence? NO, because they still lack many key algorithms. In particular, no deep learning system today can give reasons for its choices (e.g., why it makes particular chess moves); nor do we know how to enable a machine to be an expert in multiple domains (e.g., chess and medicine). Billions of dollars are being spent on achieving general-purpose AI. And recent rapid progress leaves less and less room for skepticism*.

What is clear now is this: Like humans do, AIs will acquire their intelligence, not from human programmers, but by learning from experience, aided and unaided by teachers. Programmers may give them their initial learning algorithms, but what they learn, including learning to learn better, will emerge from an AI’s interactions with its environments.

*For those who still believe brains can think in ways that machines never can: Almost a century ago computer science pioneer Alan Turing and mathematician Alonzo Church, conjectured that a certain well-defined set contained all and only the functions that matter and energy can ever compute. (This countably infinite set is infinitesimal compared to the uncountably infinite set of all functions.) Since then, many have tried to refute it and failed. More recently, physicist David Deutsch finally proved the conjecture, assuming only that matter and energy obey the laws of quantum mechanics. Thus both brains and (quantum) computers are confined to thinking using algorithms in that set.



Putting us on the map, at Lakehead University!

Washington Post: Trump Wants Government Climate Scientists to Stop Being Dramatic — Iowa Climate Science Education Someone needs to educate this man and soon. US climate change policy cannot afford to miss the mark on this one.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall Government Climate scientists are upset that President Trump wants them to avoid using emotive language in their press releases. Trump official said scientists went ‘beyond their wheelhouse’ by writing climate change ‘dramatically’ shrank Montana glaciers By Dino Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin March 7 A U.S. Geological Survey study documenting how […]

via Washington Post: Trump Wants Government Climate Scientists to Stop Being Dramatic — Iowa Climate Science Education

Another major nail…for Trump. He just doesn’t get the economics.

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump’s administration appears unbowed by broad domestic and international criticism of his planned import tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Sunday that the president is not planning on exempting any countries from the stiff duties. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: “At this…

via White House Says No Countries Are Exempt From Steel and Aluminum Tariffs — TIME

Climate Change has given us a serious sign.

Temperatures in the North Pole soared above freezing this week to a balmy 35°F (2°C). To understand how unusual it is for polar temperatures to climb that high, consider Cape Morris Jesup, about 400 miles south of the pole. Located within the Arctic Circle on the northern tip of Greenland, it’s the world’s northernmost weather…

via It’s above freezing at the North Pole — Quartz

Successfully marching with the sun. Cumberbatch’s cannon-ball aimed at any film skeptics.

As development begins to ramp up at Adam Ackland and Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company SunnyMarch, the banner has tapped Leah Clarke as its new head of film. She will be supporting SunnyMarch’s Ackland, who is currently the company’s managing director, across the company’s existing feature projects as well as growing the film slate. Clarke joins…

via Benedict Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch Banner Taps Leah Clarke as Head of Film (EXCLUSIVE) — Variety

Southern Copper Corp Won a $2.5 Billion Dollar Project in Peru —

The Michiquillay copper project will place this mine in the top 20 largest copper mines in the world. Southern Copper Corp was the company declared as the winner of the Michiquillay copper project last Tuesday, said Mining yesterday. This is the first time the Peruvian government auctions the Michiquillay copper project. “According to a statement […]

via Southern Copper Corp Won a $2.5 Billion Dollar Project in Peru —

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