Thursday, July 23, 2015

Computers, Algorithms, Insight

Michael Nielsen has in interesting piece on "The Rise of Computer-Aided Explanation" in Quanta Magazine.
Thus, we can view both statistical translation and computer-assisted proofs as instances of a much more general phenomenon: the rise of computer-assisted explanation. Such explanations are becoming increasingly important, not just in linguistics and mathematics, but in nearly all areas of human knowledge. 
But as smart skeptics like Chomsky and Deligne (and critics in other fields) have pointed out, these explanations can be unsatisfying. They argue that these computer techniques are not offering us the sort of insight provided by an orthodox approach. In short, they’re not real explanations.
The ability to scavenge through "Big Data" and perform extraordinary brute force computations allow us to find "explanations". But is an explanation really an explanation, if a human cannot comprehend it?

No comments: