Anna Koop

May 5, 2011

Let the hand-wringing commence

Filed under: Research

SciAm linked to this article on how AI is so sad. I admit, I clicked the link already annoyed at the non sequitur of talking about “if at first you don’t succeed” with something like AI. Ah, Newton. Poor thing. Such a failure, good thing Einstein tried again. Of course, we still don’t really have a handle on gravity, so I guess we can call him a washout too.

But I figured it was just headline hyperbole and made it through the first paragraph. Apparently MIT was having a “Whatever happened to AI?” symposium.

This is me, rolling my eyes. Still annoyed. Now, there are some interesting quirks and backtracks and lost-vision in the history of AI, so it’s an interesting question. But I’m feeling a mite marginalized here. SOME of us ARE still working on AI. Some of us don’t think it’s all a sad state of affair where no one does anything interesting anymore and no one is doing the “curiosity-driven basic research”. This is me, clearing my throat loudly and pointing at my research, research in my lab, research by colleagues in other labs.

On the other hand, we had a recent kvetch section about the random process that is having papers reviewed and that the aforementioned curiosity-driven basic research doesn’t really get the play it should. So I suppose I should agree with the premise of the symposium.

And of course there’s always the grad-student blinders—what do I know about how fringe and quirky my research and Rich’s research is relative to the rest of AI? I mean, I get the sense that it’s verging on the edge, but hey, we’re still doing good science.

I think it’s really only the “OH NOES! AI is so lost and sad! Whatever are we to do!” note that really bugs me. Much like “now where’s my flying car?”
XKCD where's my flying car?

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