Because of a comment added to someone else's question about it being off topic, I looked up the definition of what is on topic for the AI beta.1
I was startled to find that the current Artificial Intelligence SE site description is this.
Q&A for people interested in conceptual questions about life and challenges in a world where "cognitive" functions can be mimicked in purely digital environment
What I would have guessed it to be based on actual Q&A content is this.
Q&A for people interested in conceptual, mathematical, design, and approach questions related to the creation, use, and cultural impact of artificial intelligence and cybernetics
Below are reasons why that second phrase is more descriptive of what is actually discussed and accepted as Q&A. The evidence for the below reasons is clearly evident not only in the titles and bodies of the most popular questions and answers but also in tag usage, the top ten being these.
- Neural networks
- Machine learning
- Deep learning
- AI design
- Image recognition
Less than 1% of the content is about life and challenges in world where cognitive automation is emerging. It is likely that many of our members couldn't distinguish a cognitive function from either first order predicate logic or learned routine. The later two can be simulated in many respects with current digital systems, but it is unclear whether, in this century, cognition will be simulated. I know that's not the popular conception, but those with the greater experience that have been watching AI and working in the field for decades know it to be the truth.
Here are my reasons why I think the current AI meta site definition is not consistent with either expectation, actual content, or the real interests of the membership.
- A large proportion of the most active and interesting questions are about what can and has been done in the area of machine learning.
- Robotics appears and should appear in the content for the AI beta. To begin with, the field of AI was as much born out of the need for control systems faster than humans to defend against attacking aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles than as a way to do proofs using formal logic. More importantly, the long awaited for emergence of autonomous vehicles, automated vacuum cleaners, and a host of other non-military intelligent control systems is no longer held back by the prices of control system components (CPU, motor drivers, memory, operating system) and the applicable machine learning strategies are now on GitHub and packaged in Python and Java libraries.
- Many of the current AI beta Q&A are lacking in scientific rigor even though the AI beta is in the Science SE category. The use of mathematics is a quality factor in a science site as much as inclusion of academic references or narrowness of the problems set forth in the questions. I think it is correct to assemble AI under Science and not Technology because the technology side is covered under SE sites such as Arduino and Data Science, which are properly placed in the Technology category.
- I don't see a membership-wide interest in, "Questions about life and challenges in a world where "cognitive" functions can be mimicked in purely digital environment." People are aware that some job functions get replaced in the human job market by machines, and we've been, as a culture, adapting to it since the late 19th century. Industrialization saw the emergence automated cotton picking, textile manufacture, type setting, and electronics assembly. Most people, myself included, will actually be happy when office worker and programming is automated. It's boring and no more psychologically healthy than coal mining was healthy for breathing. Our members are not here not to ask questions about how to live or face the changes but to engage in right-now-present-day adaptation to what is so obviously the nearing of another big job market swing.
- For reasons given above, "Cognition," is not the best choice of words to describe the relevant AI research and development under way today. Notice that the word cognition or questions surrounding it are rare in tagging, titling, and discussion. What is currently being synthesized is the lower mammalian functions that do not take place in the cerebral cortex and have no relationship with comprehension, discernment, or insight. AI beta Q&A does not fit into the cognitive science definition of cognition or the dictionary definition of it. For instance, character recognition, visual collision detection, identity recognition, and such are not cognitive functions. Artificial analysis of large data sets, not for training but for feature extraction, is not cognitive either.
There's much more pointing to the inadequacy of the current description but I'll stop there. Back to the central question.
Is the current out-facing description of the AI meta descriptive of what it is?
The co-question is this.
Is discussion about life in a changing world really what is relevant to most people who would search for Artificial Intelligence in the search field of SE? And if not, shouldn't we adapt to the real interests of our membership?
There was an older AI beta that had a great description for what the current AI beta does, which failed as an SE beta probably only because it was before its time.
Q&A site for theorists, system architects and analysts of intelligent machines and software
 I had to log off to find the AI beta description, which is a bug report I might make, but not directly related to this question. It can be seen when one acts as a non-member and looks up "Artificial" in the SE site list using the search field.