Reading Assignment and Discussion Topics
Computer Science 111
for class on Tuesday April 11, 2000
Chapter 13 of the Schneider and Gersting text, and the first chapter, "That Dinkum Thinkum," of Heinlein's classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (a copy may be attached to this sheet and is certainly available in the homework hand-in bin, or on the bookshelf of any sufficiently geeky friend).
Be prepared to discuss the following:
Today we will discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI): the attempt, in the short term, to program computers so that they exhibit "intelligent" behavior, and in the long term, to make machines that are as intelligent as people. Some people believe that the long-term effort will ultimately succeed; others believe it to be impossible. Here are some views:
"Just as the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk in 1903 were
on the right track to the 747, so too is AI, with its attempts to formalize
commonsense understanding, on its way to fully intelligent machines."
"The brain happens to be a meat machine."
"Believing that writing these types of programs will bring
us closer to real artificial intelligence is like believing
that someone climbing a tree is making progress toward reaching the
"Either artificial intelligence is possible...or we're not."
"Why has the field of artificial intelligence failed to produce intelligent machines? We do not know, but we are finally aware that real intelligence involves far more complexity than we ever predicted. It involves vast amounts of knowledge that we do not yet know how to acquire or organize or use. It involves complex reasoning of a kind that we cannot yet comprehend. It probably involves many other mechanisms that we do not even realize are needed. We simply do not understand intelligence."
What are your views on this? Do you think that someday computers will be able to do all of the "intelligent" tasks that people can do? Has Heinlein's Mike reached this goal?