“The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information” is one of the classic papers of Cognitive Psychology. Is it clickbait?What about
The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology.
Fodor’s Guide to Mental Representation: The Intelligent Auntie’s Vade-Mecum.
What Darwin Got Wrong.
Tom swift and his procedural grandmother.
Clever titles aren’t always clickbait.
I also wrote a commentary which was downvoted without comments. Later it turned out that the reason was that many people didn’t like my title, which was negative on AI and, I admit, a little flamboyant. I changed the title and some people withdrew their downvotes.
This makes the voting system rather dubious in my opinion.
Hi Noah, thanks for the comment. I think there are a lot of possible questions that I did not tackle. My main interest was to show people an argument that AI won’t proceed past the pattern recognition stage in the foreseeable future, no matter how much money is thrown at it by serious people. As I showed in another post, I have good reason to believe that the argument is solid.
The dangers of current AI are real but I am not really involved in trying to estimate that risk.
Hmmm. I hope we are not talking past each other here. I realise that the AI winter will be the failure of AGI. But DL as an analysis tool is so useful that “AI” won’t completely disappear. Nor will funding of course, though it will be reduced I suspect once the enthusiasm dies down.
So I hope my current submission is not missing the mark on this, as I don’t see any contradiction in my view regarding an “AI winter”
Thanks for the comments, Noah.
I also agree that the “AI winter” will be different this time. Simply because the current AI summer has provided useful tools for dealing with big data, which will always find uses. Expert systems of old had a very limited use and large cost of entry. DL models have a relatively low cost of entry and most businesses have some problems that could benefit from some analysis.
Sorry I think you are misunderstanding the reductio argument. That argument simply undermines the claim that natural language is not based on a generative phrase structure grammar. That is, that non symbolic DL is the “proper” model of language. In fact they are called “language models”. I claim they are not models of language, and therefore there is no reason to discard symbolic models … which is where the need for symbol manipulation comes from. Hence a very different sort of architecture than current DL
And of course we can point to the difference between artificial and biological networks. I didn’t because there are too many! One of the big ones is back propagation. THE major reason we have ANNs in the first place, completely implausible biologically. No back propagation in the brain.
Thanks Noah for your really interesting piece. I actually think we agree on most things. I certainly agree that AI can produce powerful systems without enlightening us about human cognition, or following the same principles. I think chess playing programs were among the first to demonstrate that, because they used massive search trees and lookahead algorithms which no human could do.
Where we diverge I think is when we talk about more general skills like what people envision when they talk about “AGI”. Here I think the purely engineering approach won’t work because it won’t find the solution by learning from observation. For example consider adductive reasoning: finding an argument to the best explanation of some things you observe. For example: “Walking along the beach, you see what looks like a picture of Winston Churchill in the sand. It could be that, as in the opening pages of Hilary Putnam’s (1981), what you see is actually the trace of an ant crawling on the beach. The much simpler, and therefore (you think) much better, explanation is that someone intentionally drew a picture of Churchill in the sand. That, in any case, is what you come away believing.” (https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/spr2013/entries/abduction/)
To be sure, no symbol based theory can answer the question of how we perform adductive reasoning. But, as Jerry Fodor argues in his book “The mind doesn’t work that way”, connectionist theories can’t even ask the question.
Another example follows from my logic example in my first post. That is, we can have complex formulas of prepositional logic, whose truth values are determined by the truth values of their constituents. The question of satisfiability is to see if there is any assignment of truth values to the constituents which will render the whole formula true. Another case where DL can’t even ask the question.
For these examples I really do think we have to have machines which, to some extent, rely on similar principles as the human mind. I think this is also true for complex planning, etc,
As for the last part, I am a little sad about the economic motives of AI. I mean at the very beginning the biggest use of the technology was to figure out which link people would click. Advertising is the biggest initial driver of this magic technology. Fortunately we have had more important uses for it in fields like medical technology, farming, and a few other applications I have hard of. Mainly where image recognition is important. That was a significant step forward. Self driving cars are a telling story—very good in conditions where image recognition is all you need, but totally fail in more complex situations where, for example, abductive reasoning is needed.
But still a lot of the monetary drivers are from companies like Facebook and Google who want to support their advertising revenue in one way or another.
I think I may have said something to confuse the issue. Artificial neural networks certainly ARE capable of representing classical symbolic computations. In fact the first neural networks (e.g. perceptron) did just that. They typically do that with local representations where individual nodes assume the role of representing a given variable. But these were not very good at other tasks like generalisation.
More advanced distributed networks emerged with DL being the newest incarnation. These have representations which makes it very difficult (if not impossible) to dedicate nodes to variables. Which does not worry the architects because they specifically believe that the non-localised representation is what makes them so powerful (see Bengio, LeCun and Hinton’s article for their Turing award)
Turning to real neurons, the fact is that we really don’t know all that much about how they represent knowledge. We know where they tend to fire in response to given stimuli, we know how they are connected, and we know that they have some hierarchical representations. So I can’t give you a biological explanation of how neural ensembles can represent variables. All I can do is give you arguments that humans DO perform symbolic manipulation on variables, so somehow their brain has to be able to encode this.
If you can make an artificial network somehow do this eventually then fine. I will support those efforts. But we are nowhere near that, and the main actors are not even pushing in that direction.
Thank you for pointing out my miscalculation.
I’m not sure what Future Fund care about, but they do go into some length defining what they mean by AGI, and they do care about when this AGI will be achieved. This is what I am responding to.
Biological neutrons have very different properties from artificial networks in very many ways. These are well documented. I would never deny that ensembles of biological neutrons have the capacity for symbol manipulation.
I also believe that non-classical systems can learn mappings between symbols, because this is in fact what they do. Language models map from word tokens to word tokens.
What they don’t do, as the inventors of DL insist, is learn classical symbol manipulation with rules defined over symbols.
I learnt my lesson. No flamboyant titles.
Sorry I was trying for a dramatic title. I miscalculated with the audience. My arguments are, however, sincere. I will change my title
You wrote a lot so let me respond in parts.
You claim I say that “A neural network model that does well at generating program code should be impossible because generating program code requires symbolic reasoning.” I did not say that. Writing complex code requires symbolic reasoning, but apparently making relatively simple productions does not. This is in fact the problem.
“If I have understood you correctly, then your conclusion is a familiar one. There’s been an acknowledgement in AI research for a long time that software models do not represent actual human cognition.” This is not my conclusion. I added a paragraph before my points that could clarify. Of course no one believes that a particular software model represents actual human cognition. What they believe is that the principles behind the software model are in principle the same ones that enable human cognition. This is what my argument is meant to defeat.
I agree with some of your concluding comments but confused by some. For example you say
“I don’t agree that models that fail to capture human cognitive operation accurately will necessarily fail to resemble human-level intelligence.
Take a list of features of human intelligence, such as:
1. language processing2. pattern recognition and generation3. learning4. planning5. sensory processing6. motor control
As the sophistication of software and hardware models/designs improve, machines start to resemble human beings in their capabilities.”
But this does not seem to be true. Take point 3, learning. ML theorists make a lot of this because learning is one of their core advantages. But there is no ML theory of human language acquisition. ML language learning couldn’t be further from the human ability to learn language, and no one (as far I know) is even silly enough to make a serious theory to link the two. B.F. Skinner tried to d that in the 50s and it was one of the main reasons for the downfall of Behaviorism.
As for the other points, it is the human abilities that rely more on pattern completion that are showing success. But this is to be expected.
I mean I can agree with many of your points, but they do have a “let us wait and see” flavour to them. My point would be that there is no principled reason to think that something like general human intelligence will pop up any time soon
I think current AI is already dangerous. But that is not so much my concern. I am answering the question of whether AGI is possible at all in the foreseeable future.
Charles, thanks for spending so much time trying to understand my argument. I hope my previous answer helps. Also I added a paragraph to clarify my stance before I give my points.
Also you say that “You also slip in claims like “human cognition must resemble AGI for AGI to happen”″. I don’t think I said that. If I did I must correct it.
Charles, you are right, there is a deep theoretical “beef” behind the issues, but it is not my beef. The debate between “connectionist” neural network theories and symbol based theories raged very much in the 1980s, 1990s. These were really nice scientific debates based on empirical results. Connectionism faded away because it did not prove to be adequate in explaining a lot of challenges. Geoff Hinton was a big part of that debate.
When compute power and data availability grew so fantastically in the 2010s, DL started to have practical success as you see today. Hinton re emerged victoriously and has been wildly attacking believers in symbolic systems ever since. In fact there is a video of him deriding the EU for being tricked into continued funding of symbolic AI research!
I prefer to stay with scientific argumentation and claim that the fact that DL can produce Python defeats Hinton’s claim (not mine) that DL machine translation proves that language is not a symbolic process.
Charles, I don’t think it is necessary to understand all the details about logic to understand my point. The example of a truth table is enough, as I explain in my first post.
Yes, humans made Python because we have the ability for symbolic thought.
And I am not saying that non-classical systems can’t create something symbolic. In fact this is the crux of my argument that Symbolic-Neuro symbolic architectures (see my first post) DO create symbol strings. It is the process with which they create the strings that is in question.