Re: (OPE-L) Re: The Church-Turing thesis

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@WAITROSE.COM)
Date: Tue Jan 20 2004 - 20:45:38 EST

I missed some of this stream so I may be repeating a point. You seem
interested in AI for the light it throws on human mental processes. As far
as I can see the result of this so far has been a round zero. Let us take
one of the areas where machines are strongest, playing chess. At one time
the limited horizon of the search meant that the machine was strong
tactically but weak strategically. However the latest one was said by the
World Champion Kasparov to think so deeply it has achieved strategic
competence. In other words if it was behind a screen one might think it was
human. What have we learnt? Nothing. The machine does not play chess in any
way at all like a human being. It computes accurately but it does not think
if think is defined as employing concepts. Even such a simple idea as
controlling the diagonal is beyond it. Every time it solemnly computes
square by square what a human sees immediately. The very distinction betwen
tactics and strategy is beyond it. The results are achieved through looking
at every possibility. No human being bothers to do this. Our concepts allow
us the short cut of going directly to the nub of the problem. Calculation
is the final touch to the selection of a move just to check there is no
hole in the combination in the short run. The strategic depth of thought of
the new machine is  just an illusion brought about by the computing power
allowing it to reach the result a human achieves in a totally different
fashion. Part of the weakness involved in the machines may be termed the
failure to achieve a Gestalt. For example when humans play speed chess
there is no time to calculate at all. If you ask why was a move selected
the answer is 'it looked right in this sort of position'. Another issue is
experience; only the experienced player acquires this ability to see at a
glance the field of forces on the board. I think machines are a long way
from modelling these human capacities.
Chris A

17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England

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