[ExI] ai class at stanford

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Mon Aug 29 19:11:37 UTC 2011

On Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM, Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:
> Are you saying that it is physically impossible - not just "we don't have the
> information today", but "we can never obtain this information" - to eventually
> discover how neurons work, in 100% detail?
> This seems to be the core of your argument, and an extraordinary claim.
> What evidence do you have that it is impossible to uncover the missing
> details?
> Note that we have 100% detail about certain other physical phenomena.
> For instance, how electricity travels through a wire made of thickness X
> by length Y of material Z,

I'm objecting, just a bit, on a technicality, to this statement... I
don't think we understand how anything works to 100% detail. We don't
know if it's all strings in 11 dimensions, or something else. What we
do know is how to predict things with enough accuracy to be useful and
reproducible. To take your example, it is not true that we have a 100%
understanding of how electricity travels through materials at absolute
zero. Nor do we understand completely (to my knowledge) how
electricity acts inside of all types of plasmas. We have difficulty
with how electricity acts when only a few atoms of material are
involved. Yet, we do have enough understanding to build a workable
(most of the time) power grid and semi conductors. So, good enough,
yes, 100% no.

Similarly, I think we will achieve levels of artificial intelligence
that will be impressive before we understand the human brain even
close to 100%. Look at Watson, for a recent example. Pretty
impressive. Yet we don't understand how Ken Jennings' brain works with
very much certainty. We can be pretty certain that it doesn't work
like Watson... ;-)


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