AI and the randomness of a human mind

Om Malik talking about how a simple sound brought back powerful memories of his grandfather:

But to me, AI as we know it is nowhere close to having the intelligence of the human mind. I suspect my brain took random bits of metadata stored in my mind and constructed a good enough memory to bring a tear and a smile to my face.

That’s an interesting point. I can’t imagine that AI would be able to bring such an emotional response to something as simple as a sound that takes us back in time.

  • spazsquatch

    I’m no expert, and I have not even given this much thought, but it seems to me that it’s the emotion that of the moment is why the memory is stored. We don’t have the capacity to store everything, so those things in life that trigger some sort of dopamine response, are the ones flagged as important. Having a pleasant memory recalled from an unrelated and trivial stimulant isn’t an indication of superior intelligence, it’s a sign of an inefficient system.

    I’m not suggesting I would prefer a better system (I enjoy being surprised by pleasant memories as much as the next person), but it seems like a weak argument.

    • David Stewart


      A computer could tell you every time it had encountered a given stimulus and recall everyone with perfect accuracy. The heuristics our minds employ to make up for lack of capacity/ability are quite interesting, and understanding our heuristics better could help improve AI, but AI isn’t limited in the same ways we are in this regard.

      Ironically, modern AI research is largely focused on machine learning which creates exactly the kinds of connections Om is speaking of. One of the great challenges of machine learning is that there is often know clear rationality to the responses the AI gives. We can have a program that says a given squiggle is likely a 6, but we don’t necessarily know why the program thinks it is a 6. That decision is a result of all the experience the program has had in analyzing digits and likely some randomness.

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  • Martin Johnson

    At the risk of sounding cold-hearted what does this have to do with intelligence? This is memory and recall and as David said, machines can be far better than humans at both. Additionally, we have no idea how many random sounds, sights or smells Om missed entirely that had a relationship to something in his past. A machine would not be distracted or given over to “good” days or “bad” days. Finally, while we know human minds have very defined optimal periods of learning and growth, machines have no such limitations. Machines can continue to learn and refine and develop relationships between data 24 hours a day, forever.

  • JimCracky

    sentiment doe times obfuscates the obvious