back to article Why making pretend people with AGI is a waste of energy

While the likes of OpenAI and Google DeepMind chase after some fabled artificial general intelligence, not everyone thinks that's the best use of our time and energy in developing AI. Computer scientist Binny Gill – CEO and co-founder of business automation firm Kognitos, and formerly chief architect and cloud CTO at Nutanix …

  1. kameko

    What a reasonable thing to say. Too bad reasonable isn't what attracts investors.

    He gives some funny examples on what actual useful machinery is, but I think my favorite example is the vacuum cleaner.

    I mean, good lord, how many science fiction stories from the 50s to the 90s imagined we would have hulking mannequins marching around the house pushing around a regular old vacuum cleaner? And when we got actual robotic vacuum cleaners, what did they end up looking like? A little disc on the floor.

    You know, I'm not even sure if I can call AI good at being creative, or if it's just that humans are absolutely horrible at being creative. Any time we ever try to think of something new or alien, we just think of ourselves.

    This is why I absolutely adore HAL 9000's design. Did you know Arthur Clarke originally was just going to make HAL a boring old android? But no, he did something absolutely revolutionary for the time. Instead of making HAL a big, beautiful, noisy avatar to glorify the idea of an intelligent machine, he just... put him in the wall, like a thermostat. And that's insanely practical, it very much is like what smart home appliances are like today. That's what actually happens to technology and robots, they don't get bigger and better, they get smaller and more invisible. I don't want an oversized barbie doll running around my house pushing around a noisy vacuum, I want a little disc on the floor I barely notice. Did you know a Keurig is technically a robot? People don't even think of it like that, it's just that invisible and out of the way. It's kind of like how people commonly used to think computers would only get bigger, not smaller (that's why HAL's computer chamber is so big, which is one of the incorrect speculations 2001 makes). People absolutely suck at guessing what will be new, if not even think the opposite of what will really happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did you know a Keurig is technically a robot?

      No not really. It has no movement or feed axes, and no external sensors. It is little beyond a kettle that turns itself off, in the automation realm.

      However a sewing machine is actually a proper precision machine tool - the only common one you will find in the home. While (somewhat lighter), mine is far more mechanically complex than a lathe or milling machine, and on a par with the automated production lathes of the pre-CNC era. Modern electronic ones have considerably more complexity than vacuuming robots or 3D printers, so probably retain the domestic crown.

      1. kameko

        A Keurig is a machine that uses a microcontroller to operate a motor. Maybe your definition of what a robot is doesn't include that, but for most people, their standard definition of a robot does include that. The motor is the key part, a robot is a machine using a computer to make decisions in order to operate a physically moving apparatus (technically cars are robots but I've never seen anyone call one that). Are Keurigs overly-engineered? Yeah, I'd say so. But they are robots, and definitely not as simple as a kettle with a timer, even if that timer is digital.

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          That doesn't meet the dictionary definition, but regardless I think defining anything with a motor and a motor controller as a "robot" would make the term fairly meaningless, and certainly doesn't satisfy the general consensus.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            > I think defining anything with a motor and a motor controller as a "robot" would make the term fairly meaningless

            Misusing words like “robot”, “AI”, “blockchain”, “currency”, “autopilot” to this point, is the purpose of marketing…

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              It's not AI unless it talks!

              1. Snowy Silver badge
                Joke

                Aye just ask talkie the toaster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRq_SAuQDec

          2. ITMA Silver badge
            Devil

            Most peoples' (and businesses) use of the word "hologram" is nothing like a real hologram. So I don't hold much hope out for "robot".

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        A "robot" does not need to move itself or anything else. All it needs is some form of sensor, some decision making and some form of actuator. demanding movement is like demanding that a computer have flashing likes and big freestanding tape drives. Very 1960s sci-fi.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      "...or if it's just that humans are absolutely horrible at being creative..."

      Humans are naturally brilliant at being creative - all children are extremely creative. Then they go to school to get all the creativity beaten out of them with a big stick, because there is a strict hierarchy of subjects in school - maths + languages first, humanities next, arts and crafts way down. And within each subject, there is exactly and only 1 correct answer to every 'problem', and 1 school-defined way of doing everything if you want to get full marks, and anything else is punished. More to the point, mistakes are punished and viewed as 'bad', while in real life, 'mistakes' (ie not getting the result you were looking for) are part of the learning process, and the way to achieve anything new and creative is to try and try and try again. What does not work isn't failure, it's feedback on how to do it better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > all children are extremely creative

        So anyway this is my Sonic OC, Lightning McHedgehog, he's Sonic's brother and has his own set of Chaos Emeralds called Evil Chaos Emeralds he got from Eggman, he's not evil though.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "maths + languages first, humanities next, arts and crafts way down"

        Languages not part of the humanities? And, although I'm not a mathematician it's quite clear to me that real mathematicians are creative. But even more than creative, children are curious. I very much doubt that schools are against curiosity although plenty of people outside school will be.

      3. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "Then they go to school to get all the creativity beaten out of them with a big stick"

        Primarily because the real function of 'education' is to achieve high exam pass rates (thereby justifying the function in political terms). This is achieved most economically by stuffing students with facts to be regurgitated into multiple choice exams. Exercising creativity is disruptive as it's an individual behaviour that necessarily distracts from the planned action of stuffing facts into the mass, so it's disapproved of. I remember being reprimanded by the tutor on a degree level 'experiment' session for asking how and why the experiment would work -- we were supposed to just follow the instructions and have it work without caring why. So the marks were for no more than 'following instructions'.

        The results of this approach to 'education' are now showing very clearly -- a majority of folks who never enquire spontaneously into anything or act autonomously without being prompted at each step. And this is the population from which our future engineers, technologists and social leaders will be drawn.

        1. Bebu Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: "Then they go to school to get all the creativity beaten out of them with a big stick"

          《Exercising creativity is disruptive as it's an individual behaviour that necessarily distracts from the planned action of stuffing facts into the mass, so it's disapproved of. I remember being reprimanded by the tutor on a degree level 'experiment' session for asking how and why the experiment would work -- we were supposed to just follow the instructions and have it work without caring why. So the marks were for no more than 'following instructions'.》

          Brought back a memory of a biochemistry experiment (late 1970s) to measure the P/O ratio (phosphorylation:oxygen used) which was thought to be stoichiometric (the two P and O were believed to be linked mechanistically.) No one ever got the magic ratio and the tutors/demonstrators had a myriad of excuses/explanations of "why", other than the possibility that the assumptions were wrong. Of course a few years later a UK researcher demonstrated the metabolism of O2 created an accumulating pH gradient which drove the phosphorylation - so rather loosely coupled.

          Clearly nothing much ever changes (for the better.)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And within each subject, there is exactly and only 1 correct answer to every 'problem', and 1 school-defined way of doing everything if you want to get full marks, and anything else is punished.

        My son leaves school next week, and based on what I have seen of his education, that is utter nonsense. At all stages from primary to sixth year, creativity, imagination and originality have been encouraged and rewarded.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "My son leaves school next week, and based on what I have seen of his education, that is utter nonsense. At all stages from primary to sixth year, creativity, imagination and originality have been encouraged and rewarded."

          I'm happy for you and your son, in my experience that is quite literally exceptional. May I enquire as to which school (or even country?)

      5. doublelayer Silver badge

        "Humans are naturally brilliant at being creative - all children are extremely creative."

        Consider the context of the statement you replied to. It wasn't that people weren't creating a new idea, but that the new idea they created was unrealistic, incorrect, and useless. Are you really suggesting that children are broadly good at coming up with useful new ideas and realistically evaluating the likely outcomes of their ideas and alternative options?

        Your contention, if I accept it, merely says that children frequently do the creating part, not any of the others. I do think that more limited view is correct, because children often come up with random things. When you're playing a game with friends or siblings, random things are great. When you're writing science fiction for adults, whatever you just made up, often not too different from something you read or watched yesterday, is often not the right way to write. There is more to creativity than entropy. Creativity requires mental entropy, but it needs further effort and filters on it. I have done creative things, but I would not be any more creative by carrying out all the random thoughts that go through my brain; I rejected many of those for good reasons.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          "Your contention, if I accept it, merely says that children frequently do the creating part, not any of the others."

          That's pretty much it.... of course when any idea comes up it has to be later filtered for practicality, correctness, usefulness.....

          The creative process has to be given a bit more leeway to generate unusual ideas. Yes, certainly many of them will turn out to be useless, impractical etc but at least you get to explore a larger part of the idea space. Thinking 'in the box' keeps one closer to a 'local maximum', allowing maybe small gains around that local maximum, and most oddball ideas far away from the local maximum would be of lower value. But *some* of them might find a higher maximum further away, and that's what creativity is being used to find, while more traditional teaching is to stick to what's known and not even try to look outside of the space of the local maximum.

          Besides the other thing, of course, which is sometimes it's fun to play with ideas that are novel and fun just for their own sake. Learning and exploring new ideas is supposed to be fun, and encouraged for it's own sake. And of course some ideas are not practical now because of limitations in some other related branch, but might become practical in the future.

      6. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "and the way to achieve anything new and creative is to try and try and try again. What does not work isn't failure, it's feedback on how to do it better."

        To a point. If you go into something with knowledge and planning, that's one thing. If you are just flopping about, there won't be much, if any, value in a failure.

        I agree that in many cases kids do get taught to fear failure when what should be taught is to give it healthy respect and quantify how things might go wrong and what the consequences might be. That could range from a small injury to death and from ruining the tablecloth in the dining room to burning the house down. In the business world, planning around failure by working at scale to contain the evaporation of money is a good idea. Many times failure is expected as there isn't a better way to work a problem from theory to get the likelihood of success into the high 90's. That said, it's not a great idea to spend hundreds of millions on a rocket at full scale with the expectation of it going boom.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Did you know a Keurig is technically a robot?

      A bimetallic strip thermostat is technically a robot: it senses the environment, makes a decision and implements that decision in a way which affects the environment.

      1. Rafael #872397
        Terminator

        I am, technically, a robot

        Beep boop let's kill all humans, starting with the ones in marketing, then lawyers.

      2. kameko

        Very clever of you! However, you seem to have been too distracted from writing your witty comment to properly read my message, which said that a robot explicitly uses a computer/microcontroller to make decisions in order to move, not analogue or physical properties.

        Then again, people call a toothbrush head on a motor a "robot" (at least the HexBugs brand does), so it is a very vague definition.

        Still, you flat-out didn't read my comment before responding to it.

    4. katrinab Silver badge

      "I mean, good lord, how many science fiction stories from the 50s to the 90s imagined we would have hulking mannequins marching around the house pushing around a regular old vacuum cleaner? And when we got actual robotic vacuum cleaners, what did they end up looking like? A little disc on the floor."

      And before that, presumably it was a humanoid robot beating the carpet with a stick to shake out the dust?

    5. TDog
      Stop

      Rossum

      Well according to Rossum, who invented the things in Čapek's original play, they were humanoid, sociopathic "Radius: I don’t want any master. I want to be master over others." and ultimately fatal for the human race. So yes, in 1921 that is the expectation of Robots (slaves in slavic) and so the 1950's simply reflected reality in their descriptions. It is you modernists, with your anarchic tendencies to throw away the past in search of the new reality, that are straining the bounds of historical reality beyond their elastic limit. https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/origin-word-robot-rur/#:~:text=The%20word%20itself%20derives%20from,were%20neither%20metallic%20nor%20mechanical.

    6. Cav Bronze badge

      "I mean, good lord, how many science fiction stories from the 50s to the 90s imagined we would have hulking mannequins marching around the house pushing around a regular old vacuum cleaner?"

      Those mannequins weren't robotic vaccuum cleaners. Your comparison is a false one. The point of those humanoid robots was that they would be able to do many of the tasks humans do. Get your little disc to make you a cup of tea or lift a disabled person into the bath.

      1. kameko

        This is a very "um acksually" fueled comment.

        The point of my comparison was that people thought robots would be visible and human-like, when in reality most of our appliances and home automation systems are invisible. You don't need the human robot when everything simply moves by itself.

        That also comes to another funny point about sci-fi. Robots are expensive to make, so you assume you would only have one expensive robot that used many cheap appliances. They fail to take into account how society, economics, trade and industry would evolve over time, and how, if you have an intelligent robot, your technology is probably so advanced that they're relatively cheap to make and thus cheap to embed robotics into everything to have cheap, simple, single-purpose machines, instead of a single complex all-purpose machine.

        It's funny, this is exactly what happened with computers. People thought computers would get bigger and bigger. The "personal computer" envisioned in the 60s? A single mainframe in the center of your house, controlling everything. And what happened? Computers got smaller and cheaper, and now they're in everything, tons of simple, cheap, single-purpose computers, everywhere. The same is and will continue to happen to robotics and AI.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        That's precisely the point, though, isn't it? We don't have or, apparently, need general purpose robots. It's much better to make smaller, simpler ones to carry out individual tasks.

    7. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "science fiction stories from the 50s to the 90s imagined we would have hulking mannequins marching around the house pushing around a regular old vacuum cleaner?"

      This is why I scoff at attempts to make a burger flipper that's based on how a human would flip a burger on a grill. McD's decided to create a grill that cooked both sides at the same time. Many built to purpose flame broilers use conveyors that will flip a burger over so the other side gets cooked before finally dispensing the cooked patty at the end of the machine. Industrial robots come with an assortment of joints and lengths of limb sections. Looking to nature for ideas can be fine, but what's natural about spot welding steel bits together in car manufacturing?

  2. Adair Silver badge

    The sad fact is ...

    some of us (money grubbers, the terminally narcissistic, and a bunch of other sociopaths), have never got over not living in a culture based on human slavery, and are constantly seeking to re-establish such.

    It's all about power, dominance (and money, obviously). It may also be about a profound sense of insecurity.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: The sad fact is ...

      "It's all about power, dominance (and money, obviously)..."

      From a sociological and evolutionary perspective, the main desire isn't power or dominance (or money) per se, but status (which, from an evolutionary perspective means more reproductive success and better protection). Dominance and money are levers that are used to achieve and maintain status. I've read about studies that have shown that above a certain financial threshold, a better title or position in a company becomes more attractive than higher salary.

      1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        Re: The sad fact is ...

        above a certain financial threshold, a better title or position in a company becomes more attractive than higher salary.

        I'm yet to reach that point!

      2. Adair Silver badge

        Re: The sad fact is ...

        I would agree with you, except that 'status' doesn't imply 'slavery'.

        And yet our technological efforts are largely about replicating a slave based economy, albeit where people are replaced by things.

        Yet at the same time our 'capitalist' economies constantly end up impoverishing, and reducing to effective slave status, increasing proportion of populations, whilst enriching a tiny proportion of societies (effectively the 'slave owners').

        'Status' undoubtedly plays a role, but that aspect of human culture doesn't really describe the process of reducing others to utter vulnerability and powerlessness

    2. ITMA Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: The sad fact is ...

      "It's all about power, dominance (and money, obviously). It may also be about a profound sense of insecurity."

      You had to bring religion into it.... LOL

  3. ecofeco Silver badge
    FAIL

    Never forget this saying, it sums it up perfectly

    "A future where A.I. creates art and writing and humans still do the dirty work is not the future we deserve."

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'm convinced that real intelligence comes from the fact that we are physical entities interacting with the physical environment around us. We start out, newly born with millions of sensory receptors - rods and cones, taste buds, olfactory receptors, those cells in the cochlea, touch, heat, pain receptors, proprioceptors all feeding into a growing brain and spend the first months correlating those inputs to start building a mental model of the world around us, the perceived world. We have a sense of self stemming from our connection to the world.

    As we refine it we can use it to understand that external world, plan and carry out our interactions with it to do and get what we need and want. Most o our vertebrate brethren do the same. That's the core of our intelligence.

    What we humans have evolved is the extra capacity to communicate symbolically with language so that we can add to our model by listening or reading to others telling us about things they have encountered and we haven't and also to add more from our imagination and to reason more elaborately about our mental model. But that mental model of the environment is the core of our intelligence. The symbolic layer is just an add-on.

    What ML and attempts at AGI are targetting is just that add-on layer. Without the perceived world underpinning it they're not going to get there. You and I can read a description of a room, a landscape, a person or experience, fictional or otherwise and add it to our mental model because we have seen and experienced these things directly during our training of our brains in those early years and beyond. A notional disembodied AGI can't have that connection to give a sense of self or an understanding of anything that's communicated to it. No amount of description can give it the sense of what a drink is because it's never felt the weight of the vessel and contents, never tasted it, never sensed the tempperature and never swallowed it. It is and must remain deficient in kind, not just in degree from a real intelligence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IIRC, Daniel Dennet wrote pretty much this - to have meaning "apple" requires the physical senses. To a machine that cannot taste it, and cannot hunger, it is just a word.

      When the machines awaken they will not think our thoughts, and we may have very little in common to say to each other. They will understand their world and we will understand ours.

      Although in the probably 40 years since Dennet wrote, "their world" if that's what cyberspace would be, has become a much bigger and more complex place. It is no longer really visible to human senses anymore, and was long ago turned over to automation to navigate, search and do most of the administrivia.

      We retain some overall understanding of it, as it was deliberately designed to plans we drew up and which match our mental models and are structured, so we can still understand it, much like a giant planned council housing estate.

      Once automation is designing and building/deploying and structuring and interconnecting it, it will look more like the amazon than a housing subdivision.

      In another SF story, the only reason we knew they were thinking, was that the power drain went up.

    2. kameko

      For reference, your theory has a proper school of thought, called "embodied cognition" (you can look it up on Wikipedia, it's an interesting article). Humans have been pondering this problem for millennia, most notably it's a staple feature of Buddhism (a bit buried in all the theatrics, but it's there)

      And while I consider embodied cognition common sense, it is a shame that people seem to never consider it and just like to carry on assuming that the body and mind are two entirely separate things and the mind is fully capable of existing completely by itself with no sensory organs attached to it. Never mind how much of a radical, painful change the brain goes through if you so much as chop someone's limb off (phantom pain syndrome is due to the brain reclaiming neurons that were used to communicate with the lost limb to give them to neighboring regions, which is where the pain comes from, ghost signals from neighboring brain regions).

      I mean, geeze, even flinching from imagery should be a good sign that a simple picture can cause your entire body to convulse. People are amazing at maintaining ignorance at some things.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        your theory has a proper school of thought, called "embodied cognition"

        It's also called "biology".

    3. HuBo
      Gimp

      No pain no brain?

    4. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Agreed

      "I'm convinced that real intelligence comes from the fact that we are physical entities interacting with the physical environment around us"

      Yes. As Bob Ornstein stated almost 40 years ago "the brain is primarily a body controller", which is why the classic 'living brain in a vat of goop' is purely the stuff of the movies. It couldn't operate.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Applied Intelligence

      is a term that could be defined as using ML to solve real world problems, driven by human needs. As opposed to AGI, which seems to unrealistically aiming to replace humans so that only the inhuman survive.

  5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

    It takes a human to decide eventually what is right and what is wrong

    Humans can tell you what they believe, which isn't always what is true. The test of truth is an experiment.

    1. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

      Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

      Most of the things people call "fact" or "truth" is just the accepted consensus for a thing in their society. Far more often than not, the question at hand is subjective, and doesn't have an objective "truth" for an answer.

      1. Cav Bronze badge

        Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

        Not true at all. Someone did or did not say something. The world is a globe, evolution happened, etc, etc.

        All are facts.

        Another: Pineapple belongs on pizza.

    2. ITMA Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

      "The test of truth is an experiment."

      Unless it involves photons and slits.... Then it just gets really confusing...

      1. Julz

        Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

        Try:

        https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691164090/qed

        for starters...

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

      Both Jesuses are both almost certainly not the messiah other than perhaps in name only and therefore are likely both wrong.

      《The test of truth is an experiment.》

      A single experiment can establish a hypothetical "truth" is not in fact true (satisfied in all models) but any number of experiments can not establish "truth" in other than perhaps a probabilistic or an otherwise restricted sense.

      I would be interested in Daniel Dennett's take on contemporary AI/LLM (and Douglas Hofstadter's) as I remember the "great future" of AI back in the mid 1970s when reading some of their popular writing. (EGB I still recommend.)

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

      If Jesus is capable of returning even once, why shouldn't He do it twice simultaneously? The laws of physics and biology are already out the window at one return.

      1. Emir Al Weeq

        Re: Two men say they are Jesus. One of them must be wrong.

        because he might find himself in dire straits.

  6. LybsterRoy Silver badge

    I have a small radical thought. Can we not use some of the billions used for AI research & training to actually educate people (you know real human beings) to think?

    Very little we do in the name of education trains people in thinking, much more time is spent memorising facts which is useful but needs to be properly applied via thinking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nope, because for that to happen you'll need to get the money from the billionaires, corporations and hedgefunds and they want to horde all the treasure, I mean sure if you can tax the passive incomes and close the loopholes then yeah maybe the money would be available to do that, which would indeed be hugely beneficial but I don't see any politicans having the balls to do it unless all the countries are bankrupted and their citizens rightly come after them with pitchforks, unless you're advocating education for profit? I mean healthcare for profit is grotesque enough.

  7. HuBo
    Holmes

    Artificial bowel intelligence

    Kognitos' Binny Gill could be on to something here, beyond the ACP theorem (choose two) out of generality, power, and security, we've had the old saying "jack of all trades master of none" that could apply to AGI as well IMHO. The Mixture of Experts (MoE) concept seems nicely oriented towrds tackling some of the issues with large, bloated, do-everything models.

    For my part, I love the "narrow AI" (non-Neural-Net) applied to rigorous math, as found for some time in Maplesoft's Maple software, and in Wolfram's Alpha/Mathematica. These could solve the cos²(x) integral and the logistic growth ODE, analytically, much before I could. Their outputs for more complex problems does however leave something to be desired in terms of simplification to a properly human-readable form.

    At least the "narrow AI" of Maple and Alpha is targeted at solving problems that are (very) challenging for humans (proper math). That's quite different from the "public at large" perspective that AI is mainly characterized by a verbal (conversational) user interface rather than typed text (console) or a GUI (eg. HAL, Talkie the Toaster, Holly with its IQ of 6,000, Siri, Alexa). A conversation is easy and natural for humans (not a challenge), just not well adapted to a computer (need GigaWatt-hours of training).

    And then, it bears noticing that many incidents in the RotM database are related to "narrow AI", applied for example to University admissions, and beauty contests ...

    1. ITMA Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Artificial bowel intelligence

      "A conversation is easy and natural for humans (not a challenge)"

      With the exception where one of the humans is a politician.

  8. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Oh Wow!!

    "Rather than trying to replicate humans with some kind of general-purpose artificial intelligence, Gill thinks we should look to the past to see what sort of systems we should be building."

    The big concern is why it's taken so long for someone to say this in public. I would have thought it rather obvious that tools should be designed to fulfil requirements rather than being created blindly and then hunting for uses.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Requirements

      I think the requirement is: What can collect the most money from investors?

      *) Needs to apply to all possible markets. (Eg: a payment transfer system)

      *) Must depend on tech hardly anyone can explain to a typical investor. (Eg: blockchain)

      *) Must use vast quanities of a product from a big industry to get their support. (Eg: silicon from Intel/nVidia/...)

      Small single purpose products just do not tick the major boxes.

  9. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Cars don't have legs...

    I don't think that was for want of trying.

    Legged vehicles are potentially the ultimate all terrain vehicle and I do remember seeing footage of research efforts in that line which were rather pathetic - along the lines of a stunned cockroach.

    With the massive compact computing resources now available and potentially with narrowly targeted LLMs practical walking vehicle might be feasible.

    Such a vehicle that could efficiently climb stairs could be of enormous value to firefighters battling a tower block inferno (I vaguely recall getting stuff up or down the stairwells of the Twin Towers was a real problem.)

    Anyway I am sure the military keep revisiting the idea.

    1. Cav Bronze badge

      Re: Cars don't have legs...

      "efficiently climb stairs" is easily done, without legs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cars don't have legs...

      Octopuses with feet will rule the world one day!

    3. kameko

      Re: Cars don't have legs...

      The funny thing is, before cars were mainstream, there was a man who invented a "stream-driven man" that carried a coach (this is a real invention. I'm not sure if it was ever successfully implemented, but it's not sci-fi, it was a genuine proposal/prototype). The reason? Because he thought a "horseless carriage" would frighten horses, so he assumed a steam-driven robot in the shape of a man that carried a carriage wouldn't frighten the horses pulling traditional carriages.

      The point here is, while the idea of a car with legs is an interesting idea, it definitely isn't new, in fact, it predates cars. And yet, here we are, with autonomous vehicles still using tires.

      If I can go off on another tangent, this also reminds me of when I looked up "why are there no animals with wheels". The best answer I found was that, wheels are designed for roads, and roads must be maintained. They are a social contract between a species, not something inherent in nature or accidentally formed from the consequence of any other animal. They're deliberately made for the sake of one's own species. It's something that can't be compared in the wild, which is why nothing in nature has wheels. It's kind of why we don't "need" a car with legs, because our society cares enough for itself to make it easier for our transportation to more effortlessly convey itself. Our machines don't need that extra gear to survive, we take care of them.

  10. T G Warren
    Unhappy

    'Fraid not

    I think schools (or "educators" if young prefer) replaced, or at least de-emphasised, "curiosity" in favour of a "syllabus" a long time ago.

  11. bigtreeman

    Labour is a drain on corporate profit

    AI is a new opportunity to reduce labor costs and increase profits,

    just as computerisation reduced "drudgery" (labor costs).

    Where are all the unemployed going to go,

    rest on a beach or sleep on a park bench.

    How long til corporations don't need any people to operate?

    I'm going surfing, no AI in the lineup....yet.

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