First AAAI05 day and Invited talk by Minsky

In the opening remarks, the chairs ask to stand up to people that were attending the first AAAI conference (25 years ago!). From 6 to 10 standed up, that was a great moment. AAAI conference seems to be like the most important since it is the case that representatives from other 16 difference conferences in AI agreed to send representatives to summarize their results.
Another clever idea is to provide everyone with a Networking Card (see photo): Students have to find 10 faculty for increasing their network and faculty have to find 10 students; the message was “Meet 10 students/faculty new to you and find a common research link”. I think this is a perfect excuse to force yourself into bothering that would-be-too-busy-to-talk-to-me professor. Also worth mentioning is the First Annual General Game Playing Competition that would be played here and whose winner will receive a $10,000 prize!

After that we had the Invited talk by Marvin Minsky, one of the founder of AI, you might have read his “Society of Minds” book (1988). He had problems with the computer for at least the first 10 minutes and was making funny remarks about Microsoft’s inability to get stuff working. He presented a sort of history of AI. One of his point was that around 1980, AI got “physics envy” and went into heavy reductionism: you subsubsubdivide the big problem of creating “intelligent” entities and you tackle those simpler problems, instead of attacking complexity (I think he called it Panalogy). Then he had problem with the screensaver and the battery of his powerbook.
The slides he created were orrible, with too many words (see an example). He just finished a new book that is available on his homepage for free, it should be The Emotion Machine. I would have preferred him releasing under a Creative Commons licence that makes clear what is legal to do with the book and what not.
Then he started into discussing about “theory of consciousness” and philosophy. I didn’t quite get if he was criticizing philosophy as a whole and from now I think he just didn’t convey any point at all. At least, later on, he enjoyed the robots.
Summarizing, I was looking for inspiration from his talk and I got none. I guess that it is hard to satisfy all the 800 people in the audience and possibly most of the people liked his talk. Actually there is a post on AAAI blog titled “Minsky disappoints” that critizices the talk (some comments to it confirm, some comments disagree) and another post is more in the middle.
What I like about blogging is that allows you to express an opinion about anything. I mean, I’m critizing Minsky’s talk and I’m a totally nobody. But I’m free to do it. Of course my talk will be ages less interesting and my contribution in Science will probably always be less that 1/1000th Minsky’s one but I’m free to tell that I didn’t like his talk.

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