Monday, May 07, 2012

Just Barely Got Something to do with chess II

Just what is intelligence? Dictionary definitions talk about the ability to learn, to understand new situations, or to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment. Tying these definitions down to objective criteria so that a robot could be evaluated as to whether it possessed intelligence is a daunting and most likely fruitless task. We can make some comparisons, however. A person mostly seems more intelligent than a dog, and a dog more intelligent than a salamander, and a salamander more intelligent than an ant. And perhaps we would be willing to concede that an ant is more intelligent than a wind-up toy. Just what makes one of these creatures more intelligent than another, however, is very hard to quantify.

Judging by the projects chosen in the early days of AI, intelligence was thought to be best characterized as the things that highly educated male scientists found challenging. Projects included having a computer play chess, carry out integration problems that would be found in a college calculus course, prove mathematical theorems, and solve very complicated word algebra problems. The things that children of four or five years could do effortlessly, such as visualising distinguishing between a coffee cup and a chair, or walking around on two legs, or finding their way from bedroom to the living room were not thought of as activities requiring intelligence. Nor were any aesthetic judgements included in the repertoire of intelligence-based skills.

By the eighties most people in AI had realized that these latter problems were very difficult, and over the twenty years since then, many have come to realize that in fact they are much harder than the former set of problems. Seeing, walking navigating, and aesthetically judging do not usually take explicit thought, or chains of thought-out reasoning. They just happen.

... to do with chess Index


David said...

Will there be some chess on this blog again one day soon, please? I used to like it when there was.

It seems an awfully long time since you showed us so much as a position, let alone a game...

ejh said...

The hour of your deliverance is at hand.


Jonathan B said...

Oh David.

We didn't get where we are today by only putting chess stuff up here.

Just Barely is, I grant you, a slow burner. Trust me. It's building to a magnum octopus as Baldrick might say. A few more to go before the pay off though. Hang in there.

Jonathan B said...

That second line is supposed to be read in your best CJ voice. That's Reggie Perrin CJ obvs, not chess CJ. Although you can try him if you want.

Tom Chivers said...

I'm thinking of writing a series called "Should Have Something To Do With Chess - but does not".