Overall Trends and the Future of AI Research
The resounding success of the data-driven paradigm has displaced the traditional paradigms of AI. Procedures such as theorem proving and logic-based knowledge representation and reasoning are receiving reduced attention, in part because of the ongoing challenge of connecting with real-world groundings. Planning, which was a mainstay of AI research in the seventies and eighties, has also received less attention of late due in part to its strong reliance on modeling assumptions that are hard to satisfy in realistic applications. Model-based approaches—such as physics-based approaches to vision and traditional control and mapping in robotics—have by and large given way to data-driven approaches that close the loop with sensing the results of actions in the task at hand. Bayesian reasoning and graphical models, which were very popular even quite recently, also appear to be going out of favor, having been drowned by the deluge of data and the remarkable success of deep learning.
Over the next fifteen years, the Study Panel expects an increasing focus on developing systems that are human-aware, meaning that they specifically model, and are specifically designed for, the characteristics of the people with whom they are meant to interact. There is a lot of interest in trying to find new, creative ways to develop interactive and scalable ways to teach robots. Also, IoT-type systems— devices and the cloud—are becoming increasingly popular, as is thinking about social and economic dimensions of AI. In the coming years, new perception/object recognition capabilities, new robotic platforms that are human-safe, and new platforms, products, and markets for data-driven products will continue to grow.
The Study Panel also expects a reemergence of some of the traditional forms of AI as practitioners come to realize the inevitable limitations of purely end-to-end deep learning approaches. We encourage young researchers not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to maintain an awareness of the significant progress in many areas of AI during the first fifty years of the field, and in related fields such as control theory, cognitive science, and psychology.