Minsky Denounces "Stupid Little Robots"

Posted 14 May 2003 at 17:33 UTC by steve Share This

Marvin Minsky's latest screed is making the rounds. The Wired article seems to have been the first on scene with Minsky's pronouncement that robot builders are wasting their time on "stupid little robots" and that graduate students are "wasting 3 years of their lives soldering and repairing robots, instead of making them smart." Rodney Brooks is not amused, noting that "Marvin may have been leveling his criticism at me". For more discussion of the controversy, see Slashdot's coverage of the story or this Usenet thread in which Minsky himself responds to the story. Hmmm...Isn't this the same Marvin Minsky who said neural networks, the Loebner competition, etc. were a waste of time?

Keep your insite outside, posted 14 May 2003 at 21:53 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

The fact is, AI is not ready for prime time. You can't currently grab some AI code, plug it into a robot and have anything close to human intelligence. If you look at the current state of personal robots, you do find that if you weed out the stupid little robots that bump into walls, you find little else. There have been some strides made, but it's not hard to see why people are disappointed with the state of AI today. Sure there's robots that are preprogrammed and given enough time can bounce around the floor long enough to vacuum mostly all the room, but not too many that I've seen that can think about what, when and how to vacuum. People praise the state of AI, but I think that a lot of what Minsky said is right on and it's in a dismil state and very few are really to the level of really working seriously with it.

The value of incrementalism, posted 23 Jul 2003 at 14:35 UTC by mwatts » (Apprentice)

The problem with AI is that it has been pursued in the wrong way. AI work has been largely academic rather than pragmatic. As we venture investors in Silicon Valley have learned the hard way, successful innovation comes in relatively small increments rather than in large revolutionary leaps. Many, if not most, failed VC investments fail because the company bites off more than it can chew. Starting with Stupid Little Robots and moving to more complex ones in a series of commercial ventures will move AI along much faster than any other approach. The task will be broken into managable steps and each step will be funded to a far greater extent than has been the case in the past. The commerical success of Roomba, despite the derogatory comments of Minsky and others, is very good news for AI and robotics in general.

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