The St. Thomas Common Sense Symposium: Designing Architectures for Human-Level Intelligence

  • Marvin L. Minsky
  • Push Singh
  • Aaron Sloman


To build a machine that has "common sense" was once a principal goal in the field of artificial intelligence. But most researchers in recent years have retreated from that ambitious aim. Instead, each developed some special technique that could deal with some class of problem well, but does poorly at almost everything else. We are convinced, however, that no one such method will ever turn out to be "best," and that instead, the powerful AI systems of the future will use a diverse array of resources that, together, will deal with a great range of problems. To build a machine that's resourceful enough to have humanlike common sense, we must develop ways to combine the advantages of multiple methods to represent knowledge, multiple ways to make inferences, and multiple ways to learn. We held a two-day symposium in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to discuss such a project -- - to develop new architectural schemes that can bridge between different strategies and representations. This article reports on the events and ideas developed at this meeting and subsequent thoughts by the authors on how to make progress.