Thinking Fast and Slow in AI: the Role of Metacognition

AI systems have seen dramatic advancement in recent years, bringing many applications that pervade our everyday life. However, we are still mostly seeing instances of narrow AI: many of these recent developments are typically focused on a very limited set of competencies and goals, e.g., image interpretation, natural language processing, classification, prediction, and many others. Moreover, while these successes can be accredited to improved algorithms and techniques, they are also tightly linked to the availability of huge datasets and computational power. State-of-the-art AI still lacks many capabilities that would naturally be included in a notion of (human) intelligence. We argue that a better study of the mechanisms that allow humans to have these capabilities can help us understand how to imbue AI systems with these competencies. We focus especially on D. Kahneman's theory of thinking fast and slow, and we propose a multi-agent AI architecture where incoming problems are solved by either system 1 (or "fast") agents, that react by exploiting only past experience, or by system 2 (or "slow") agents, that are deliberately activated when there is the need to reason and search for optimal solutions beyond what is expected from the system 1 agent. Both kinds of agents are supported by a model of the world, containing domain knowledge about the environment, and a model of "self", containing information about past actions of the system and solvers' skills.


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