A More Rational View of Logic, Or, Up Against the Wall, Logic Imperialists!

Alex P. Pentland, Martin A. Fischler


The AAAI President's address (the pervious article by Nils Nilsson) presents an eloquent argument for a particular AI paradigm that may be summarized by what Nils calls the "propositional doctrine:" AI is the study of how to acquire and represent knowledge within a logic-like propositional formalism, and the study of how to manipulate this knowledge by use of logical operations and the rule of inference. Although we concur with many of Nil's other assertions, this propositional doctrine seems far to extreme: a lot of interesting and important AI research is done outside of the logic-and theorem- proving paradigm. Indeed, the view that other lines of inquiry serve only to produce tools that may be procedurally attached to an AI (logic-and-theorem-proving ) architecture seems a kind of Logic Imperialism to those of us they wish to relegate to working in the procedure factories. this dismissal of other avenues of research as "not really AI" would normally be cause only for knowing shake of the head and a small chuckle, but when such views are promulgated by the President of the AAAI it is time to take up arms against the logic-and-theorem-proving set -- there is a danger that someone might actually take them seriously! This paper, therefore, constitutes an initial salvo over(into?) their bow. We will focus on two central questions in this rebuttal: What is an appropriate research paradigm for AI? What role should logic-like formal languages and deduction play in the study of AI?

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v4i4.412

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