Cyreenik Says

April 2021 issues

How big does AI need to be? Count the surprises

How big does an artificial intelligence (AI) system need to be, as in, how much data must be installed for it to function well in getting a mission accomplished?

The answer is: count the surprises it has to deal with -- the more surprises the more data needed.

Here is a simple example. Think of the thermostat in a room as an AI system. How much data does it need? All it needs to know is the temperature of the room and how to turn the on furnace when the room gets too cold. Pretty simple. Now add air conditioning to the the system. Now the AI needs to know if the room is too cold or too hot and it needs to know which to turn on: the furnace or the air conditioner. Adding this air conditioning feature has doubled the data needed.

What this means is that the more surprises an environment offers, the bigger the AI system has to be.

A real-world example of this is the difference between a delivery robot navigating a well-designed warehouse and a delivery robot navigating city streets -- the latter has a whole lot more surprises to deal with so the AI is going to have to be many times bigger.

In sum, AI size is all about surprises.

Afghanistan: Twenty years later: The End

One of the dramatic choices made during the 9-11 Panic of 2001 is now ending: President Biden has announced that the last of America's troops in Afghanistan will be gone by September 11th.

This is a good choice. The 9-11 terrorist act was a big and terrible surprise, and, sadly, most of the immediate responses to it turned out to be just as terrible for Americans because they produced a lot of waste not a lot of good results. The 9-11 responses are a fine example of the curse of responding quickly and emotionally to scary political events, rather than responding rationally and after giving some thought to the consequences of actions taken. (An indication of how irrelevant the current material condition in Afghanistan is is that the ending date picked is based on symbolism.)

Have we learned? Not likely, but the good news is that big, scary political events don't happen very often, so the bad choices are rare too.



-- The End --