The problem

“What’s the next stage after Artificial Intelligence?”

Paskov looked round the room at the baffled young faces. Smithson raised his hand.


“Artificial Stupidity.”

“Correct and why is that?”

“So that computers can do what we do and learn from their mistakes” Smithson replied somewhat wearily.

“But we’ve got machines that do that already,” objected Fratelli, “so they can navigate around obstacles for instance.”

“Not forgetting any of Gates’s software” muttered Evans to some general laughter. Paskov ignored this and continued. “True but to date the only heuristic available to them has been absurdly simple. They have to examine possible solutions in a straightline logical sequence. The fact that they can do those computations incredibly fast is an advantage but it’s not necessarily the best approach. So what might be?”

“Fuzzy logic.”

“We’ve had that for years.”

“But humans still have to set the parameters.”

“Do we want machines to set their own parameters?”

The class was beginning to wake up.

“What’s the one thing humans can do when a solution fails that, so far, machines can’t?” the teacher interjected. There was a pause, then Fratelli put her hand up again.

“Come up with a completely different approach.”

Paskov smiled. She was definitely showing promise.

“Yes. It’s generally called imagination. The question is then, how do we put that into machines? Any ideas?”