Friday, January 15, 2016

Artificial Intelligence: Solving the Chinese Room Argument

Yesterday, the very best AI (artificial intelligence) had trouble beating a novice human chess player. Today, the very best human player has enormous difficulty beating the best AI. Tomorrow, the very best human player will never beat any AI. However, that's not the worst news you've heard. This is:
Computers have no idea how to play chess whatsoever.
They also don't understand Chinese, but that doesn't stop them from trouncing us in chess or speaking Chinese. Let's find out how this is possible and speculate on whether or not we can actually create an AI capable of true understanding.

Yesterday: Pong

Mankind has been dreaming of AI since antiquity, so the idea is not new. Ancient Greek mythology, for example, tells of a giant bronze robot named Talos whose task it was to patrol the shores of Crete, protecting the inhabitants from invaders. In the Far East, circa 3rd century BC, the Chinese 'Lie Ze' text gives an account of mechanical men being given to King Mu of Zhou. Evidently, these automations were so lifelike that the king had some torn apart to ensure they were, in fact, artificial. The point is, the idea of thinking machines has been around for millennia.
This article was written by Patrick Rhodes and published on January 12, 2016. Click here to read the rest of the article.


  1. Patrick, As usual your excellent research prompted a question:
    Is AI being used in the film industry's use of the to produce special effects?
    I hope this question is relevant/makes sense. :)

    1. Hey Sarge,

      I'd have to speculate on that, since I don't work in that industry. Certainly, the software used to produce some of the dazzling special effects consist of thick, convoluted algorithms. I'd wager that many of the programs used have the ability to 'make their best guess' at applying a certain effect, or lighting, etc. In that way, one could say that AI is being used.

      Keep in mind, however, that what's really happening is the software is obeying a large set of instructions to perform whatever it is that the user asks, and that those instructions were put there by humans. So, no matter how cool the rendering of an effect is, the program providing that isn't a form of 'strong AI', it's still at a level of extremely sophisticated programming, and the software still doesn't actually understand that it's creating a special effect.


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