Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Cover of "The Book of Why"

A lot of artificial intelligence researchers have put a pause on their quest for a super-intelligent machine, frustrated by the lack of recent progress. But among those still in the hunt are Judea Pearl, winner of the Turing Award, the highest prize in computer science, and author of "The Book of Why," in which he proposes a new map to intelligent machines.

  • Pearl calls his approach "causal reasoning," the ability to infer the whys and hows of a situation.
  • While it won't get to artificial general intelligence itself, causal reasoning is the eventual route there, and thus will mark a "mini-revolution," he tells Axios.

The problem with machine learning, Pearl said, is that it rests on correlation and association, which have made remarkable achievements but are still elementary in terms of true thinking — and they can only take the field so far.

  • He told me the story of an AI program watching a rooster crow day after day before the sun rises, and determining that it causes the sun to rise.
  • That is an example of correlation. But, Pearl writes in the book, "Causal explanations, not dry facts, make up the bulk of our knowledge, and should be the cornerstone of machine intelligence."
  • The goal of AI researchers "is to produce machines with humanlike intelligence, able to converse with and guide humans. Deep learning has instead given us machines with truly impressive abilities but no intelligence."

Causal reasoning differs by working through a situation without specific training, said Pearl, and borrows from methods already in use by social and health science researchers.

  • For instance, a self-driving car equipped with causal reasoning could encounter a situation for which it has no data, and instantly adapt, said Pearl.
  • "This is the route [to general artificial intelligence] and these are the building blocks," he said. "On top of them, we need to build capabilities such as: social intelligence, humor, and perhaps even fear of death."
  • "The mini-revolution I am predicting will liberate machine learning from its current predicaments of opaqueness, forgetfulness and lack of explainability," he said. "Plus it will allow machine to learn answers to questions we really care about, (e.g., what caused this accident?) not merely associations."

Go deeper: In this Bloomberg video, Facebook's Yann Lecun discusses how to advance AI.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."