Prospects for Asia and the Global Economy: 2013 Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: 2013 Asia Economic Policy Conference
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James Somers on Douglas Hofstadter: The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think: Noted

James Somers on Douglas Hofstadter: The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think:

Their operating premise is simple: the mind is a very unusual piece of software, and the best way to understand how a piece of software works is to write it yourself. Computers are flexible enough to model the strange evolved convolutions of our thought, and yet responsive only to precise instructions. So if the endeavor succeeds, it will be a double victory: we will finally come to know the exact mechanics of our selves--and we’ll have made intelligent machines....

[But] by the early 1980s, the pressure was great enough that AI, which had begun as an endeavor to answer yes to Alan Turing’s famous question, “Can machines think?” started to mature—or mutate....

In GEB, Hofstadter was calling for an approach to AI concerned less with solving human problems intelligently than with understanding human intelligence—at precisely the moment that such an approach, having borne so little fruit, was being abandoned.... Take Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer that bested the chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue won by brute force.... What allowed Deep Blue to beat the world’s best humans was raw computational power. It could evaluate up to 330 million positions a second, while Kasparov could evaluate only a few dozen before having to make a decision.... “Okay,” he says, “Deep Blue plays very good chess—so what? Does that tell you something about how we play chess? No. Does it tell you about how Kasparov envisions, understands a chessboard?” A brand of AI that didn’t try to answer such questions—however impressive it might have been—was, in Hofstadter’s mind, a diversion.... "I don’t want to be involved in passing off some fancy program’s behavior for intelligence when I know that it has nothing to do with intelligence. And I don’t know why more people aren’t that way.”

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