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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
neats vs. scruffies
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artificial intelligence, jargon The label used to refer to
one of the continuing holy wars in artificial intelligence
research. This conflict tangles together two separate issues.
One is the relationship between human reasoning and AI;
"neats" tend to try to build systems that "reason" in some way
identifiably similar to the way humans report themselves as
doing, while "scruffies" profess not to care whether an
algorithm resembles human reasoning in the least as long as
it works. More importantly, neats tend to believe that
logic is king, while scruffies favour looser, more ad-hoc
methods driven by empirical knowledge. To a neat, scruffy
methods appear promiscuous, successful only by accident and
not productive of insights about how intelligence actually
works; to a scruffy, neat methods appear to be hung up on
formalism and irrelevant to the hard-to-capture "common sense"
of living intelligences.