Chess is one of the world's most popular games. Its popularity and complexity make it an interesting research domain for artificial intelligence. The number of board positions we can get to from the initial board state is larger than the number of atoms in the universe! Chess playing machines have been the subject of human interest for hundreds of years, but only on the last few decades have they been able to compete with (and beat) the world champions. Chess programs now have their own tournaments.
Recent advances in artificial intelligence are encouraging governments and corporations to deploy AI in high-stakes settings including driving cars autonomously, managing the power grid, trading on stock exchanges, and controlling autonomous weapons systems. Such applications require AI methods to be robust to both the known unknowns (those uncertain aspects of the world about which the computer can reason explicitly) and the unknown unknowns (those aspects of the world that are not captured by the system’s models). This article discusses recent progress in AI and then describes eight ideas related to robustness that are being pursued within the AI research community. While these ideas are a start, we need to devote more attention to the challenges of dealing with the known and unknown unknowns. These issues are fascinating, because they touch on the fundamental question of how finite systems can survive and thrive in a complex and dangerous world
I recently finished reading "The Second Machine Age", which was recommended to me by one of our board advisors. The authors Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee make a convincing argument that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift every bit as transformative as the industrial revolution. While the industrial revolution was about harnessing physical power, this new machine age is about harnessing cognitive power. The authors identify the steam engine as the key catalyst for change in the industrial revolution. Between 1765 and 1776, James Watt, in partnership with Matthew Bolton, made fundamental improvements to the efficiency of the existing steam engine that would see its widespread adoption across a range of industries.
This book presents a methodology and philosophy of empirical science based on large scale lossless data compression. In this view a theory is scientific if it can be used to build a data compression program, and it is valuable if it can compress a standard benchmark database to a small size, taking into account the length of the compressor itself. This methodology therefore includes an Occam principle as well as a solution to the problem of demarcation. Because of the fundamental difficulty of lossless compression, this type of research must be empirical in nature: compression can only be achieved by discovering and characterizing empirical regularities in the data. Because of this, the philosophy provides a way to reformulate fields such as computer vision and computational linguistics as empirical sciences: the former by attempting to compress databases of natural images, the latter by attempting to compress large text databases. The book argues that the rigor and objectivity of the compression principle should set the stage for systematic progress in these fields. The argument is especially strong in the context of computer vision, which is plagued by chronic problems of evaluation. The book also considers the field of machine learning. Here the traditional approach requires that the models proposed to solve learning problems be extremely simple, in order to avoid overfitting. However, the world may contain intrinsically complex phenomena, which would require complex models to understand. The compression philosophy can justify complex models because of the large quantity of data being modeled (if the target database is 100 Gb, it is easy to justify a 10 Mb model). The complex models and abstractions learned on the basis of the raw data (images, language, etc) can then be reused to solve any specific learning problem, such as face recognition or machine translation.