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Computer guy/philosopher: AI can’t do abductive reasoning

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Charles Sanders Peirce (c. 1891)

A type of reasoning critical in the sciences:

Abductive reasoning, originally developed by an American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), is sometimes called an “inference to the best explanation,” as in the following example:

“One morning you enter the kitchen to find a plate and cup on the table, with breadcrumbs and a pat of butter on it, and surrounded by a jar of jam, a pack of sugar, and an empty carton of milk. You conclude that one of your house-mates got up at night to make him- or herself a midnight snack and was too tired to clear the table. This, you think, best explains the scene you are facing. To be sure, it might be that someone burgled the house and took the time to have a bite while on the job, or a house-mate might have arranged the things on the table without having a midnight snack but just to make you believe that someone had a midnight snack. But these hypotheses strike you as providing much more contrived explanations of the data than the one you infer to.” –

Notice that the conclusion is not, strictly, a deduction and there is not enough evidence for an induction either. We simply choose the simplest explanation that accounts for all the facts, keeping in mind the possibility that new evidence may force us to reconsider our view.

Now, why can’t computers do that? William J. Littlefield II says that they would get stuck in an endless loop

A type of reasoning AI can’t replace” at Mind Matters News

Abduction is the kind of reasoning ID uses.

Further reading on computers and thought processes from Eric Holloway:

The flawed logic behind thinking computers:

Part I: A program that is intelligent must do more than reproduce human behavior

Part II: There is another way to prove a negative besides exhaustively enumerating the possibilities


Part III: No program can discover new mathematical truths outside the limits of its code

Will artificial intelligence design artificial superintelligence?

Artificial intelligence is impossible


Human intelligence as a Halting Oracle

I might argue (since I like to argue, lol) that, short of omnipotence, abduction is all anybody's really got, because what constitutes "proof" always requires a value judgment. Deductively, a conclusion is only as good as its premises. Inductively, one counter example -- like Nasim Taleb's black swan -- can be negatively dispositive. In the interests of circular reasoning, as "proof" of the above, I submit that it is impossible for me to argue myself out of solipsism by either deductive or inductive means. My belief that I am not a brain in a vat, but rather, that the world which I inhabit, which includes myself and others, really exists very much like it seems to, therefore, is wholly based on abductive reasoning. Thank you, and please donate to my Patreon page... :P jstanley01
OK, so you're saying that it's OK that a human who has VERY close, long term experience with the general situation CANNOT come to a valid conclusion. But a wild guess by the human shows more "intelligence" than a wild guess by a computer. I don't think policemen or lawyers would agree with the IMPOSSIBILITY of deducing an explanation. Most of the (human) world runs most of the time on making such deductions. So guess again. vmahuna

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