lecture15 - Lecture 15 The Limits of Computing and Articial...

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Lecture 15. The Limits of Computing and Artificial Intelligence Informal and unedited notes, not for distribution. (c) Z. Stachniak, 2011-2012. Note: in cases I were unable to find the primary source of an image or determine whether or not an image is copyrighted, I have specified the source as ”unknown”. I will provide full information about images and/or obtain reproduction rights when such information is available to me. Introduction We are living in digital society, submerged in digital culture. It is difficult to imagine our lives without computers, without infrastructure that they pro- vide. If the history (i.e. the recorded past) is any guide–and we clearly don’t have anything else as powerful as our past experience–any major technolog- ical breakthrough or scientific discovery inspires Utopian sentiments. In the past, the advent of steam power, electricity, electronics, and even the Inter- net, had inspired ungrounded proclamations of a techno-panacea leading to ever lasting technology-based higher forms of social organization (and liber- ation). The world would be better, freer, more fair as long as steam power is with us – we proclaimed a few centuries ago. But we know that steam power was only a stage in the development of our civilization. It kick-started the Industrial Revolution, modernized almost every sector of manufacturing and produced repeated immense waves of economic growth. It made a lot of peo- ple rich, fast, and left many people poor and desperate. And then it was over. Will computers be always with us? Will they make us better, freer, more fair? Are they the ultimate tools that, when they evolve sufficiently, will be able to provide us with limitless benefits, and guide us to the next and higher step of social and cultural evolution? Or will they share the fate of steam engines? Perhaps computers will evolve into some other devices, like calculators which seemed invincible but, in the end, only paved the way to computers. Perhaps in 50 years computers might only be seen in technology museums... 1
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Fig. 1. The evolution of computing. Source: unknown. To search for answers to some of these questions one may consult computer scientists themselves. What do they know about computers and computing? Will the continuous technological progress result in future computers that will be able to solve all problems of interest to us? What does computer science know about the limits of computing? In this lecture we shall search for scientific answers to just two questions. The first deals with the limits of computing. The second with the quest for computer-based intelligence. 2
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Can computers solve every problem? To answer any question fairly, one has to understand it fully, one has to make sure that all the terms used in the question are defined with precision. Hence, if we want to know, for instance, whether or not all problems are solvable by computational means, we have to know the exact meaning of the terms ”problem”, ”computer”, and ”computation”. Only then we can attempt an- swering the question.
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