TR: Wouldn’t such a tool reinforce what one might call the “quantification fallacy”-the notion that all judgments and decisions can be reduced to calculations?
HSU: That danger exists. But data mining eventually leads to the discovery of empirical findings and rules, after which people stop to figure out why those exist. In other words, we can use computers to extract knowledge from data, but human beings still have to turn that knowledge into wisdom. That’s how humanity progresses.
TR: What’s next, now that Deep Blue has beaten the foremost human chess master?
HSU: Deep Blue’s basic search blueprint is actually not specific to chess. So we’ve started looking at other areas such as pharmaceutical research, where Deep Blue could help design new drugs faster. That’s important, since if a disease is very deadly and also very contagious, we need to be able to fight it with the best tools we have. Toward that end we are designing a molecular-modeling chip-one that can help predict how a candidate drug molecule would interact with, say, the protein envelope of a virus. We plan to install a number of such chips in a computer next year.
TR: Having come this far with Deep Blue, what would you say would actually constitute artificial intelligence?
HSU: Deep Blue would exhibit real AI if it would not allow me to unplug it.