The basic ideas behind Neural Nets are 30 years old. What is new is the ability to deploy them with big data and computing power.

When you boil it down, AI today is deep learning, and deep learning is backprop—which is amazing, considering that backprop is more than 30 years old. Once you understand the story of backprop, you’ll start to understand the current moment in AI, and in particular the fact that maybe we’re not actually at the beginning of a revolution. Maybe we’re at the end of one.

Neural nets are just thoughtless fuzzy pattern recognizers, and as useful as fuzzy pattern recognizers can be—hence the rush to integrate them into just about every kind of software—they represent, at best, a limited brand of intelligence, one that is easily fooled.

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