Saturday, 4 January 2020

Reflections on 'Four Decades, Four AI Papers'

I really enjoyed reading 'Four Decades, Four AI Papers' by Murray Shanahan. The familiar names evoked memories and provoked ideas. Two observations (NOT criticisms) are relevant here.
  1. How tangential psychology has been to the AI story over this time. Not what I had expected from my undergraduate experience.
  2. The AI development processes over time are completely, conceptually, detached from the development of software tools for human use.
To test these observations, I did some searches on Arxiv CS (Computer Science). For benchmarking, 'psychology'/ 'psychological' got 80 hits, and 'gradient descent' 413.
For 1., a search for 'Gigerenzer' produced two hits, with one of general relevance. There were no returns for 'Turvey'. As a probe into the use of psychology in the CS / AI /robotics world, this is disappointing, to say the least.
For 2., a search for 'Augmented Intelligence' yielded three returns. The Wikipedia article (cf. link) gives a good summary of the long and honourable history of the approach, though the story tails off toward the end. A search for 'Human-Centered' yielded 92 returns (many beyond AI / ML), with a dozen or so of interest. 'Usability' (which also picked up 'usable') yielded 1,316 returns - I did not investigate how many of these were related to AI / ML.

Inferences from this:
As regards 1.,a potentially fruitful two-way exchange seems to have been missed over the last four or five decades. There was some exchange during the expert systems era, but the potential exemplified in 'Expert Judgment and Expert Systems' was hardly explored (AI winter I suppose).

As regards 2., the consequences are more damaging than a missed opportunity. Taking the approach to researching AI, and applying it to practical problems leads to a justified Frankenstein Complex.  The psychology of building "applied AI" seems to come from 'God and Golem' , the 'Megamachine' , or Technetronics. An Augmented Intelligence approach would have pre-empted most of the fruitless discussion over bias, meaningful human control, etc. The AMA seems in favour of the approach. The Knowledge Based Systems community still seems to exist; perhaps a major refresh of KADS is due?

All in all, these decades have been interesting, but have not helped us move to a more humane society.