Artificial knowledge an evolutionary approach
McMullin, Finbar Vincent (1992) Artificial knowledge an evolutionary approach. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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I present a new analysis of the problem, situation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), grounded in a Popperian epistemology.
I first review arguments purporting to establish that no purely “computational” system can realise genuine mentality. I conclude that the question is still open; but that the more pressing question is whether such a system can even exhibit intelligent behaviour. Attention is thus directed at the computational embodiment of knowledge, and its growth. I suggest that much of the work in this area incorporates a flawed, naïve empiricist, epistemology. I adopt Popper’s view that the growth of knowledge is possible only through a process of unjustified variation and selective retention. In particular, the inate knowledge of biological organisms has arisen by such a process, in the form of Darwinian evolution.
I review previous work on the realisation of Darwinian processes in computational systems. In particular, I present a critical reinterpretation of von Neumann’s pioneering work in this area. I conclude th a t no system to date has exhibited substantive growth of artificial knowledge via a process of Darwinian evolution. More importantly, I argue that this problem is deeper th an is generally recognised, requiring the effective integration of autopoiesis with evolvability. To achieve this it may ultimately be necessary to realise something analogous to the genesis o f life. I review one proposal for such a phenomenon: Holland’s so-called a-Universes. I present an implementation of a specific a-Universe and review the (largely negative) results of empirical tests carried out on it.
I conclude with the claim th a t the problem of realising the spontaneous genesis of “artificial life” is of great difficulty, but th a t its solution may yet prove to be an essential prerequisite for the realisation of anything deserving to be called “artificial intelligence” .
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