does that mean that those researchers wont participate any skirmish and they are waiting for a big one which it wont happen ?

It is a study that has always had multiple goals. To extend a crude military metaphor often used in science, we could say that AI has chosen to attack its problem area on the widest possible front. Instead of a concentrated attack that might lead to the core of the problem of intelligence, there are innumerable little skirmishes, along a line that stretches across most of human knowledge. Some of these skirmishes are going well and some not so well, but over a period of a few years that can change. Perhaps understandably, those researchers whose skirmish seems to be yielding results tend to shout that this is the long awaited breakthrough. When the dust settles, however, it becomes clear that once again they have only moved the frontline forward a few yards. At the same time, other researchers may give very plausible reasons why their particular part of the line is where the big push should be made. In the history of AI, however, such “big pushes” have only resulted in moving the line forward locally a few hundred yards. So far, there is steady progress in AI, but no big breakthroughs.

  • It sounds more like the researchers think that funding and research should happen in their specific area. If there is only so much money for research and we want to examine 3 or 4 parts of the problem, each of the 3-4 groups of scientists will want funding and recognition for their own piece of the puzzle.
    – WRX
    Feb 8, 2017 at 13:14

1 Answer 1


It is an American football metaphor.

It means that there are multiple initiatives (parts of the line) where effort may be applied (more research could be done), but other researchers may give plausible reasons why their particular part of the line (their preferred initiatives) are where the big push (most effort) should be made.

  • Thank you . and the writer says that there wont be any big push . so they wont participate
    – Alper
    Feb 8, 2017 at 13:25

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