The Atom of Intelligence

Back in a very distant past, perhaps over 2 billion years ago, a wonderful thing happened: a strand of nucleic acid found itself encapsulated in a little protein bubble, along with a few other ingredients sufficient for it to replicate. This in fact may have happened millions of times before, each time dying out after a few generations. But one such bubble that appeared that day in the primordial sea was going to survive, this was the one which was going to make it and launch an incredible evolutionary process lasting until this day. A process that managed to create incredibly complex beings including you and me. 

As soon as this bubble of life started to replicate, the process "guiding" its evolution "noticed" that there are effectively two aspects of control necessary for survival:

  • Internal control regulating the expression of genetic code and other internal reactions - we call this process metabolism today.
  • External control regulating interaction of the bubble with the surrounding environment - we call the process behavior today.

Initially both control mechanisms were likely only tuned at a generational level, not so much at the level of life of an individual, but clearly an evolutionary pressure to … Read more...

Ai Reflections

Statisticians like to insist that correlation should not be confused with causation. Most of us intuitively understand this actually not a very subtle difference. We know that correlation is in many ways weaker than causal relationship. A causal relationship invokes some mechanics, some process by which one process influences another. A mere correlation simply means that two processes just happened to exhibit some relationship, perhaps by chance, perhaps influenced by yet another unobserved process, perhaps by an entire chain of unobserved and seemingly unrelated processes. 

When we rely on correlation, we can have models that are very often correct in their predictions, but they might be correct for all the wrong reasons. This distinction between weak, statistical relationship and a lot stronger, mechanistic, direct, dynamical, causal relationship is really at the core of what in my mind is the fatal weakness in contemporary approach in AI. 

The argument

Let me role play, what I think is a distilled version of a dialog between an AI enthusiast and a skeptic like myself: 

AI enthusiast: Look at all these wonderful things we can do now using deep learning. We can recognize images, generate images, generate reasonable answers to questions, this is Read more...