[extropy-chat] No pure predictors (was: Singularity Blues)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky sentience at pobox.com
Wed Apr 6 20:18:16 UTC 2005

Hal Finney wrote:
> Artificial Intelligence literally just refers to the intelligence aspect,
> which is the processing/predicting/modelling part of the brain.  Only when
> you marry some kind of goal to an intelligence do you get a volitional
> being, one which can take actions in the world to achieve its goals.

Hal, I warn strongly against trying to compartmentalize intelligence 
this way.  In pure mathematics it sometimes makes sense to distinguish 
probability theory from decision theory, Bayes from expected utility. 
But as far as I can tell any actual intelligence needs both the decision 
and the prediction component, even if all you think you want from it is 
pure prediction.  To model the world well using bounded computing power, 
even an allegedly pure predictor must:

(A) Choose how to spend its limited computing power (choose what to 
think about).
(B) Choose which experiments to perform - determine the information 
value of information.

and of course, any *interesting* optimization process will

(C) Choose which modifications to make to its own code/substrate that 
improve its prediction ability given its limited computing power.

But even without (C) you simply cannot disentangle decision from 
prediction on real-world systems, not if you expect to have any sort of 
decent, efficient, generalized prediction power.  Decision-less 
prediction systems will be predefined specialized algorithms and 
probably quite stupid.  You're trying to pry apart two things that don't 
come apart in real-world systems.  You're trying to fence the big 
diamond, not by breaking it into smaller diamonds, but by selling one 
facet at a time.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                          http://singinst.org/
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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