Thursday, October 09, 2008

Artificial intelligence: Computers do not think, they "shuffle bits"

In response to an item I wrote on whether computers really think, friend Gil Dodgen, author of the highly acclaimed computer program, World Championship Checkers (pictured above), writes to say,

As you know, I've been involved in AI programming for many years.

One of my greatest joys was meeting, knowing, and challenging
Marion Tinsley to games of checkers with my computer program. See here:

I could tell you many amazing stories about Tinsley. He was a true genius and prodigy, and a devout born-again Christian. He had a major influence on me, and I had the opportunity to share with him, just shortly before he died, my conversion from atheism to Christianity.

I once told Marion that my computer program doesn't even know it's playing checkers; it just shuffles bits. I mentioned this comment to my programming colleague Ed (with whom I computed the only perfect-play endgame databases for the game of checkers, corrected Jonathan Schaeffer's win-loss-draw databases, and developed a chess-variant program called Gothic Vortex), and Ed dubbed me The Master Bit-Shuffler.

And that's all computer programs do: shuffle bits. This has nothing whatsoever to do with real intelligence or creativity.
That said, a book, One Jump Ahead, has been written about Tinsley's legacy.

And Gil, of all people should know about real intelligence and creativity. He is also a superb piano player, as this will demonstrate.

See also:

Artificial intelligence: Getting computers to pretend to converse is an " extremely hard computational problem"

Conversing with computers, or with their programmers?

Computers: Most engineers must have guessed that they are not robots

Artificial intelligence: A look at things that neither we nor computers can discover

Can a conscious mind be built out of software?

Also: Mind vs. meat vs. computers - the differences Let the machine read your mind (We offer an installment plan!) Mind-computer blend: Who believes in this? Artificial intelligence: Making the whole universe intelligent? Brain cells release information more widely than previously thought.