Our knowledge is mainly stored in a form convenient for its use, but not for sharing it. One consequence is that it is often unconscious: its owner does not even know what he knows! We have already seen that this hampered the development of expert systems, where one wanted to give them the knowledge of the best human experts of a domain. These experts have not their knowledge structured as in an encyclopedia, where it is sufficient to look at the relevant entry to find what one wants to use. It is implicit in the procedures that they are using, and the characteristics of each situation triggers the right decision. The reasons of the decision made by an expert are not evident, one must trust him. Therefore, communicating our knowledge is a very difficult task, and we are not sure that we have not invented the justification that we found for a particular decision. It is frequent that an expert recommends a decision which does not agree with the rules that he has just given. This way of storing knowledge has serious consequences: this makes teaching difficult, and also keeping knowledge alive impossible, because we are not immortal. When an expert retires or dies, most of its knowledge will die. The last Ubykh speaker, Tevfik Esenç, died in 1992. Several linguists gathered as many data as they could, but that did not prevent the loss of most of the knowledge on this extraordinary language, with its 84 consonants and only 2 vowels. Moreover, even if we succeed to find useful knowledge, it is very difficult to use it immediately. We first have to include this knowledge in our mechanisms, to translate it into procedures, so that it will be available when it can be useful. We have to use it a lot of time before it is not forgotten when necessary, and not used when it is useless. When I am going in England, I know that I must look on the right before crossing a road, but it takes some time before I do it systematically. For computers, and particularly for artificial beings, the situation is completely different. They can give their files as many times as necessary; this is so easy that it is a problem for the authors, who do not always receive a compensation for this transfer; moreover, the receivers can also give the files as easily as the author. A program, a file can be reproduced millions of times for a modest cost, and this reproduction is perfect. While human knowledge is frequently badly passed on, and often got lost, naive users of social networking services have discovered that it is almost impossible to remove a bit of information from the web. This possibility of easily exchanging knowledge is important for artificial beings: they can efficiently use every bit of knowledge as soon as it is acquired. This is possible because this transfer also includes an expertise which defines when every bit of knowledge will be useful. In the communication with human beings, this kind of information is usually missing, and the receiver has to discover it: the student must wait a long time before being as skillful as his master. As soon as an artificial being has been created, millions of duplicates can be created. If it is successful, this is very convenient, everybody can take advantage of its expertise; moreover, it costs nothing if the author of an artificial expert cannot or does not want to benefit from his realization. It is as if every human could be taught by the cleverest teachers, treated by the wisest doctors, fed by the best cooks, etc. We will see in other posts that this possibility to give or to acquire knowledge easily produces artificial beings with many amazing characteristics: we can only dream to have the same capacities. One of the most important of these features is a quasi-immortality.
One thought on “Exchanging information is easy for artificial beings”
In its present form (CAIA dated february 05th 2014), CAIA is not currently able to communicate with other software systems (since it is lacking an event loop, on Linux using a multiplexing syscall like poll(2), and is hardly able to communicate with another human (except J.Pitrat). Actually, the communication ability of CAIA (both with other systems and with other humans) are quite poor today, and I (and probably others) wish that you would improve them.
I agree that it would be nice if we had a society of minds, more precisely a society of artificial minds.
Also, a communicating artificial being will attract interest, both from AI researchers and from software engineers. For instance, making CAIA a JSON RPC server software system would probably make it usable (by those researchers and engineers using state of the art constraint solvers such as ECLiPSe or linear programming problem solver like Parma Polyhedra Library) . Feel free to ask me for concrete help.