What do you think is the most difficult AI problem of all? I’m not sure there is even a debate around this, but regardless, I’d like to clarify the issue, at least for my own sake.
Here are some candidates, let me know if I missed something important.
1. Natural language understanding.
2. Vision, Image/Scene understanding.
3. Creating “consciousness”.
I’m very sure some of you will immediately rank the difficulty in the order presented above, with natural language understanding being easiest and creating consciousness most difficult, and scene understanding being somewhere in the middle.
I, however, would like to argue exactly the opposite.
Looking at things from an evolutionary point of view, what evolved first, and what evolved last?
1. “Conscious” beings emerged first as life evolved, reacting to various stimuli in their environment.
2. Soon various life-forms were able to “see” their surroundings and react accordingly.
3. Much later, only humans, the pinnacle of evolution’s achievement yet, are able to create and learn an innumerable number of communication mechanisms using symbolic languages, in a multitude of mediums including sound, light, surface markings and so on.
Consciousness, at one level, could be treated just as the presence of a feedback loop. It could be argued that a vast number of computer systems in existence today are already “conscious”, although the degree of consciousness varies significantly.
Vision, or image understanding, is present in species vastly lower on the scale than the human, i.e insects, birds and so on. And since the known communication mechanisms in those species are enormously rudimentary compared to human speech and language, and coupled with the fact that even species only a notch below humans cannot “talk” in the fine detail that we do, language must be the most difficult piece of engineering to achieve (I do know this one personally, I’ve been trying very hard to build an NLU algorithm for a while).
If you find flaws in my reasoning, please do point them out.
Because if my assertion is true, the corollary would be: “The moment a complete NLU system is built, it means the code of intelligence is cracked, and that fully intelligent self-aware beings are then only a matter of combining the various existing building blocks”.