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RE: CF: Long term experimental ideas

-----Original Message-----
From: David Andrew Michael Noelle
Sent: 9/15/99 4:28 PM
Subject: Re: CF: Long term experimental ideas


    Having studied A.I. at SUNY Buffalo for three years, then at
U.C.L.A. for two more, I can tell you this:  Egad!  I think maybe you're
expecting a bit much from Open Source.  An AI that sophisticated, and
"fool-proof" (???) would take years, lots of years.  Even with several
people collaborating on it.
    It's definitely an interesting idea, but that's exactly the problem.
It's *too* interesting.  Ever heard the phrase "Turing Tarpit"?  Back
when computers were new and people didn't really understand them, there were
all kinds of projects trying to build computers that could write their own
programs.  A mathematician named Alan Turing told them this was a waste
of time, but nobody believed him.  So he made up a mathematical model of a
computer, now known as a Turing Machine, and proved that his theoretical
computer could do anything a real computer could do, and vice versa.
Then he proved that with both theoretical machines and real machines,
everything is possible, but nothing interesting is easy.  And as the problem
gets more interesting, it gets exponentially more difficult.
Self-programming computers are so interesting that they fall into a special
category of problems that are infinitely difficult.

    By all means, keep pounding out ideas.  A lot of it sounds good, and
any individual component of this might be a good step.  Just keep in mind
that an AI capable of holding together all these dynamic features
seamlessly, and in real time, is real deep in the Turing Tarpit already.
Don't drown in it.
-----Begin Response-----
<DM does a swan dive into the Tarpit>

Goodie.  That means next year when I'm trying to make this stuff a reality,
I can pick David's brain and he can point out all the stupid naive things
I'm doing in my code.  :)  I brushed AI only lightly in college.  I was
concentrating on other aspects of computer engineering.  But what I lack in
knowledge, I can make up for in enthusiasm.  Perhaps I'll gain some
knowledge along the way.  In any case, I can happily flail around in the tar
for months, probably.  :)

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