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Trapped by the technologies in your time

It's very hard to see beyond the ambient technologies of your time. We are somehow trapped by our senses unable to see past that which is available in the current times.


Even Leonardo DaVinci in his attempt to envision the helicopter came up with the ornithopter, with flapping wings, because he couldn't foresee the invention of the engine and its evolution from steam to oil and now moving to battery power.

This is the current malady of AI development. We are trapped by our times and I am sorry to say this but ours is worse than what it was in the past. Our large machines churning out trillions of calculations per seconds might make us feel superior to visionaries of the past but I would say that conceptually we are not that advanced and if we are to make progress a return to real visionary thinking is needed.

Babbage was trapped by mechanical gear-driven systems, if he had electricity he would have made great progress on the analytical engine. Ada Lovelace made way more progress than Babbage because she did more of her work in mathematics.

The ENIAC guys were limited by vacuum tubes, they would have a different machine if they had transistors.

Progress has never relied on technological realizations, it is always about conceptual improvement which can exist without actually being realized in a definite form using the existing technologies of any particular time.

We do not need larger and larger machines to achieve AI, scaling is not the answer. We could solve AI on paper in a bunch of equations.

The Idea of universal computation conceived by Alan Turing and Alonzo Church is much powerful than it's implementation in the largest supercomputers of our times. It is these deep conceptual ideas that we should be chasing not just trying to scale out our existing systems.

The AI problem is akin to the problem of flight. It wasn't until the arrival of the internal combustion engine and its development to the point of being used to attain powered flight by the Wright brothers that the dream of flight was given a real foundation.

But imagine all the time that passed from the first internal combustion engine to kitty hawk, that's how far I think we are conceptually from the strong kind of AI we all dream of. 

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