Image for post
Image for post

I published a post a couple of weeks ago based on a paper that I wrote with my father about AI and the philosophy of science. It was an updating of a book that he had written in the 90s about AI and Scientific method. I had helped with current advances in AI.

Humanly Comprehensible AI

In the last post I talked about the important problem of induction, but the paper also raised issues for AI. In particular the need to be able to understand what an AI system is doing. To quote the paper about the situation in the 90s:

The machine learning programs analysed in Gillies (1996) all gave as output rules which were humanly comprehensible. For example Muggleton’s GOLEM gave an explicit rule relating to protein folding which is stated in Gillies (1996), p. 53. This was typical of the period when machine learning was mainly used as a technique for learning the rules of rule-based systems. This situation led to the following analysis of human interaction with the results of machine learning [Gillies (1996) pp…

On Monday, Mel Slater, VR pioneer (and my former boss), gave a public talk as part of the Frontiers in Virtual Reality lecture series co-organised by my colleague Xueni ‘Sylvia’ Pan.

Though I’m very familiar with Mel’s work, every time I hear him speak he brings some new insights, and I thought I would share them (though do watch the talk as well, it contains important insights for all VR creators).


The talk was about embodiment in Virtual Reality, something we have talked about in our MOOC. This is the ability to inhabit another body while in VR.

While many VR experiences don’t show more than hands it is possible to set them up so that you see yourself as having a graphical body (including seeing your new self in a mirror, a powerful part of the illusion). Because VR systems track your hands and head, the hands and head of your virtual body move with you. This correspondence between your own physical movements and the movements you see on your virtual body (called visuomotor congruence) gives you the sensation that this really is your body. …

Image for post
Image for post
Isaac Newton and Karl Popper vs the supercomputer? (thank you to Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge, Argonne National Laboratory and the LSE library)

I recently did something I don’t normally do, I collaborated on an academic paper with my father, Donald Gillies. He is a philosopher of science, and the paper we wrote originated in the mid 90s when he published a book on AI and Scientific method, which summarised the state of the art of AI at the time and how it might impact how we think about science.

This year he was asked to present a paper about his work on AI, but since he has been working on other things (mostly the philosophy of medicine) in the intervening decades, and clearly, AI has moved on a bit since the 90s, he asked me to help update it. We were supposed to present the paper at the Conference on the Philosophy of Science today: Seven perspectives (XXV Conference on Contemporary Philosophy and Methodology of Science), Ferrol, Spain, but that didn’t quite go to plan as Spain went into COVID-19 lockdown during the conference. …


Marco Gillies

Virtual Reality and AI researcher and educator at Goldsmiths, University of London and co-developer of the VR and ML for ALL MOOCs on Coursera.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store