Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Unlearning

Humans use teaching as the main method for learning (eg, children, schools). Unlearning may not be possible. To forget what we have learned is not similar to unlearning. Forgetting is temporary; unlearning is permanent.

Fear can be used as a (human) tool for “unlearning”. However, sometimes fear triggers temptation in some people. Quite often such people long for those forbidden fruits (eg, alcohol, drugs, smoking). Temptation is strong.

Theoretically, unlearning is possible in machines. Hence, the brand new topic in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics: machine unlearning. Like human unlearning, it might however be impossible; see my recent blog.

Machine learning is about storing known knowns (eg, facts). However, some people (eg, criminals) prefer certain facts to be forgotten (eg, the legal right to be forgotten). Nevertheless, for machines such facts remain known knowns.

Restricting the known knowns for machines seems (very) illogical and irrational. It might be more appropriate to use “banners” (eg, over/under 18 years). The machine still knows but will warn (eg, banner) the user prior to display.

An alternative to banners would be using authorization levels. Most known knowns would be for all adults. Children would be restricted from certain available information. Some known knowns would, however, only be for specialized people (eg, the Police, Tax department).

Unlearning is a hypothetical concept because evolution in any life form is about learning and not about forgetting what we have learned. Our memories do fade in time but can always be reactivated (eg, photographs). Unlearning does not seem to have an evolutionary advantage.

Given the aforementioned, machine unlearning might also be a hypothetical concept.

“Half of wisdom is learning what to unlearn.”

A quote by American science fiction writer Larry Niven (b.1938)

I Keep Forgetting’ (1982) by Michael McDonald
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

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