Historians observe that AI has consisted of two waves. Decades ago, symbolic AI, the first wave, disappointed us. Today, “machine learning,” the second wave, is about to disappoint us again.
But this time the disappointment will not last long.
A new day is dawning in the way we use digital machines. No longer just devices that compute data and information, New Sapience is endowing them with knowledge. Mere computers no more, now they are thinking machines. We call them sapiens.
New Sapience began with a simple thesis: the quickest way to create a thinking machine is to give it something to think about. We were right.
Computers already excel at logic and the other information processing tasks that could make them intelligent – but when it comes to knowledge of reality, they remain profoundly ignorant. Until now. We hypothesized that knowledge is composed of elemental ideas, like the material world is composed of atoms. We discovered that these “atoms of thought,” and their principles of combination can be captured in software without having to emulate the neural processing architecture of the human brain.
We built a compact structure of core concepts that learn, not by training against datasets, but by reasoning about new information to build upon what it already knows – just as humans do. Upon this core we built a model of the common sense world sufficient to understand the meaning of words in human language.
Sapiens communicate with people, as people do with each other, at a level far beyond the reach of chatbot technologies.
Despite all the hype, chatbots do not understand human speech. What they offer is the illusion of understanding. Sometimes that can be useful, but it is essentially a deception.
For more than a century, AI has been a favorite topic of science fiction writers and visionaries. It is the ultimate goal of computer science. Today, the term is widely used to refer to many techniques and applications that have little to do with AI as people have imagined it. There remains a great expectation for the day when machines have the comprehension to understand what we say and the intelligence to do what we ask.
With the advent of sapiens, that day is arriving sooner than most experts had envisioned. How will the reality measure up against the decades of hype, hopes, and fears? There is no doubt that the impact will be profound, in ways we can reliably predict and others we cannot.
From our perspective we are confident that the hopes for AI are more well-founded than the fears. Sapiens are intelligent because at their core they encompass knowledge “curated” from human minds. They will be forever grounded in a perspective of the world that is truly human.