RALPHs Like You and Me

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1993, Vol 38(11), 1208–1209. Reviews the book, Do the Right Thing: Studies in Limited Rationality by Stuart Russell and Eric Wefald (1991). Russell and Wefald assumed, thank TD, that we must be able not just to think, but to act on our own Action means Doing the Right Thing (i e., maximizing utility or expected utility). In an amazing early paragraph, Russell and Wefald limited that definition “direct implementations of logical or decision-theoretic action selection don't scale up well to large problems various approximations, compilations, and downright hacks will result in better and/or faster decisions”. Better means faster. TD had a tool, multiattribute utility, for describing values with some precision. They used it seldom. They did not consider how to generalize that tool so that it could specify entire value systems. We are as hampered as they were by the 12-year training process needed to produce replacement Marsrobots who know what they want and how to get it. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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