Moravec’s paradox

The main lesson of thirty-five years of AI research is that the hard problems are easy and the easy problems are hard. The mental abilities of a four-year-old that we take for granted – recognizing a face, lifting a pencil, walking across a room, answering a question – in fact solve some of the hardest engineering problems ever conceived… As the new generation of intelligent devices appears, it will be the stock analysts and petrochemical engineers and parole board members who are in danger of being replaced by machines. The gardeners, receptionists, and cooks are secure in their jobs for decades to come

— Steven Pinker

The 35-year life of AI research mimics the life of many people at that age: they’ve given up on their early dreams, but found out a pretty good way to make money doing something much more boring but arguably adjacent to it. Like an aspiring writer who admits to themselves that life as a marketing creative is pretty comfortable, or a precocious young scientist who wants to cure cancer, but settles for owning a home and working for the pharmaceutical industry. AI was going to bring about the technological singularity, instead the killer app is setting a timer by voice command. What would 15-year old AI research think if it could see itself at middle age?