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Are you considering a career in Artificial Intelligence?

I am the current facilitator of the San Francisco Bay Area AI Meetup. At these meetups I have occasionally been approached by students considering AI as a career path. They want to know what kind of AI research and projects to pursue and what to study.

It would be easiest to study the “Weak AI” technologies used in places like game companies, expert system companies, etc. Weak AI is basically a bagful of clever programming tricks and techniques that allow certain specific problems to be solved using current technology.

But if anyone seriously wants to work on “Strong AI” (true intelligence) and expects to be in it for the long haul I will have to put forward a dilemma that they have to deal with themselves.

  • They can go with the majority and study any number of current Reductionist and Logic based attacks on AI. Some number of positions are available in this field, but if I’m right, then a large part of what they learn may become obsolete in the next few years. That is, of course, a risk in any field.
  • They can go with the minority and study Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, non-ML Learning, and various SubSymbolic AI methodologies. Part of this will be useful no matter where AI research is going, but there are fewer jobs available for Epistemologists than for Game Programmers.
  • They can read the few web pages that have been published about Artificial Intuition and try to join the AN Explorer’s Club, either as individual collaborators or at Syntience Inc. But not enough information is currently available, it has not been shown to work, it’s a minority view, and there are no paid positions for this specialty anywhere in the industry.

I am of course biased in my opinion about where AI is going and where it should be going. But I firmly believe the field will change direction, and sharply, sometime before 2011 and the minority views, including AN, will become the most active fields in the AI community.

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