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Re: Some FT background stuff (guidelines for writers)

From: Jerry Han <jhan@c...>
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 1998 00:09:03 -0500
Subject: Re: Some FT background stuff (guidelines for writers)

Alexander Williams wrote:
> On Thu, 12 Feb 1998, Jerry 'Ghoti' Han wrote:
> > Oooo, a debate!  (8-)
> Nah, just an exchange of broadsided opinions at long range.

Mr. London, fly "Engage Enemy More Closely"  (8-)
> > I guess my point above was that computer AI (granted, this can be
> > 'done away with the Universe, as much as anything else), will
> > never achieve the same amount of flexibility as a human mind.
> > (This is not the same as 'intuition' or 'creativity, but closely
> > related.)
> I just don't see that; in the big picture?  Certainly correct.  In a
> limited domain, in which there are a limited number of responses? 
> let's be honest, there are only so many things you can do in command
of a
> fightercraft in 0g.)	Certainly incorrect.

I'm not so sure.  We have a fighter, with vectors indicating thrust, 
velocity, and direction (assuming thrust and direction can be generated 
off-axis), with six axes of freedom.  We have a selection of weapons and
defences.  We may be flying by ourselves, or we may be flying in teams. 

We may engage multiple targets, or single targets.  These multiple
may be escorting a must-kill target, or it might be a fighter sweep, or
it might be a full up alpha strike.

While you can probably reduce the options a fighter has at any given 
moment to a given set of maneuvers (which strikes me as being limiting),
thus simplifying the AI problem there, you then face the thousands of 
different possible combat scenarios, many of them unforseen.  This is
where the human flexibility comes in.

A possible compromise here would be the use of the AWACS or Ground
model, where the actual fighters are drones, but they are under the
supervision of a human aboard some sort of control ship.  This raises
problems of C-cubed, but it can be dealt with, and offers the best
advantages of both.  (This reminds me of another short story I read in
another anthology, about a border outpost commander who had at his 
command 40 'doggies' - autonomous combat drones that he could direct,
the actual engagement details were left to the drones' AI.)
> This does imply I think fightercraft combat is an essentially
> problem, yes.  That is to say, I believe that for any set of initial
> conditions, a set of actions can lead to consistant victories within
> variances between initial conditions.

Essentially then, you're assuming that from a given engagement scenario,
each side will use the same actions, because those actions are, in some
sense 'optimal.'  I'm worried about divergence though; I believe that 
combat, by nature, is a chaotic system and extremely sensitive to 
perturbations in the initial conditions.  

Damn, this is starting to remind me of the USSRs 'Battle Calculus'
back in the 60s.  (8-)

> > redundancies wherever possible.  That means you're always probably
> > going to have human pilots, until you can get AIs that think like
> > humans.
> Why think /like/ humans?  Given that humans are just big AIs
> shouldn't you strive to go 'outside their parameters' and give up
> solutions to the current situation, so that humans are at a
> We have millions of years of evolution to /unlearn/ about space
> drone minds do not.

Point taken here.  I should have been clearer; AIs that can emulate
intuition, creativity and flexibility, even if the solutions developed
the system are considered 'alien' to human mindsets.  For example, I 
fully expect AIs to be capable of 3D analysis very easily (especially in
terms of situational awareness) whereas, in humans, 3D (or even n-D) 
spatial analysis is a particularly tough skill to develop.

> Someone once said 'specialization is for insects, humans are meant for
> better.'  They neglected to notice that insects make up more biomass
> this planet than any other phylum.  Specialization /works/.

Agreed.  If my AI is supposed to design starships, I don't give a damn
if it can appreciate Mozart.  (8-)
Jerry Han -  CANOE Canada - -
  ***** Visit the Canadian Online Explorer! => *****
The opinions expressed are mine, and not necessarily those of CANOE
	 "Is there no escape from the words that plague me so?"

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