Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Self-emergence of intelligence in humans and artificial systems

Human brain is self-emergent on many levels. Here's simplified sequence of human brain self emergence:
1) Human genes build "Brain Builder". Brain Builder consists of:
- Neurons Factory – neurons with reproductive ability.
- Brain Structure Manager – hormones and other mechanisms that define brain structure.

2) Brain builder builds "Empty Brain" --- fully assembled, but mostly empty brain: super goals are defined, but there is no external knowledge yet, no sub-goals defined yet.

3) By experimenting and learning Empty Brain evolves into Brain with Mind (fully working intelligent system, with lots of external knowledge and sub goals).

Every step in this sequence means self-emergence.

What do you think, when we build artificial intelligent system, what system should we build: Genes, Brain Builder, Empty Brain, or Brain with Mind?

I believe that building Empty Brain is our best option.
Below are my reasons.

Why not build Brain with Mind?

In order to build Brain with Mind we have to build Empty Brain anyway, but our task will be considerably more complex, because fully loaded mind is at least 10 times more complex than Empty Brain. It's like complexity of empty computer in comparison with complexity of all software which is loaded into regular "in use" computer.
Bottom line: there is no point to ai developers to pre-load mind into strong AI, when Empty Brain system can do it itself.

Why not build Brain Builder?

Complexity of Brain Builder is probably comparable with complexity of Empty Brain. But from engineering perspective developing Brain Builder is considerably more complex.
1) Let assume that we didn’t have designed Empty Brain yet. In this case we have no clue what the output of our Brain Builder should be. That means that we cannot test or debug Brain Builder. There are no checkpoints to verify that our development is on the right track.
Inability to test and debug complex system makes development of such system virtually impossible.
The only working approach in this situation would be to try to tweak some Brain Builder’s settings and then run full test: build Empty Brain and wait for several years to check if it evolves into Brain with Mind.
Mother Nature was quite efficient in this approach. It took just few billions years to develop proper Brain with Mind. I doubt that human researchers applying such approach would accomplish the task considerably faster.

2) Let assume that we already designed working model of Empty Brain. In this case what’s the point to design Brain Builder? Our industry can easily reproduce any working model in mass quantity.

Why not build Genes?

Building Genes which would build Brain Builder is even more complex than building Brain Builder itself.
The reasons are the same as in "Why not build Brain Builder?"
If we don’t have working model of Brain Builder yet – then we effectively cannot test & debug genes.
If we have working model of Brain Builder – then why bother with Genes?

Parallels with existing systems

1) CYC is trying to build Brain with Mind system. Actually even worse – they are trying to build Mind without Brain --- no self-learning ability, no super-goals.
That road leads nowhere.

2) Google is Brain with Mind which was developed as Empty Brain. Google's Empty Brain has working crawler and other self-learning mechanisms. This approach proved to be very efficient, and eventually Google's Empty Brain emerged into Brain with Mind – very smart search system.

3) It seems that there are no famous Brain Builder projects. But I’m sure that some researchers do attempts to build "Brain Builder". So far – no success at all for the reasons I explained above.


Building Empty Brain capable of self-emerging into fully capable Brain with Mind -- is the most feasible engineering approach in strong AI development.

This post is a result of discussion with David Ashley. He is a proponent of "Brain Builder" approach.