Is randomness (either true randomness or simulated randomness) necessary for AI? If true, does it mean "intelligence comes from randomness"? If not, can a robot lacking the ability to generate random numbers be called an artificial general intelligence?
Is randomness (either true randomness or simulated randomness) necessary for AI
It depends on how you define Artificial Intelligence. If you regard it strictly as an intentionally created construct which demonstrates utility, then no. (For instance, Nimatron, potentially the first functioning AI, beat most human competitors at NIM. But Nimatron was classical AI, entirely rules based with no learning.) That said:
- Randomness has proved a useful component in machine learning, and any feasible AGI would likely require ML.
Given sufficient computing power, aka time and space, it would absolutely be possibly to brute force anything, including AGI, but the resulting algorithm would be "brittle", unable to "compute" anything not previously defined. A learning algorithm, presented a problem outside of its domain of knowledge may initially degrade in performance, but it can learn from those outcomes, and gradually improve performance.
IBM brute forced Chess with Deep Blue, but Chess is a strictly narrow problem that turned out not to require general intelligence. AGI requires human level performance in all tasks engaged in by humans, which, even if they could be broken down to a set of individual narrow problems, it's an ever expanding set of problems.
Does it mean "intelligence comes from randomness"?
Not if the definition of intelligence is rooted in utility because deterministic processes can demonstrate utility.
- In statistical AI, the intelligence arises from the analysis of random search or the fitness of the genetic algorithm, not the randomness per se.
In other words, if you have the randomness without the analysis, every decision is an unqualified guess.
My sense is that it is free will that would arise from randomness—effects unrelated to causes—because without true randomness, the universe and everything in it is purely deterministic.
Yes, randomness is necessary to achieve generality in theory. Right now AIs we have are on the basis of seeking pattern and use them to predict future moves or outcomes. If we don't include randomness in data then machine might consider that as pattern and behave according to that (Which will be bias for us). Generating random numbers is a different story in itself and won't be a criterion alone to judge. While this might be one of the conditions for sure.
It might be too philosophical answer, but maybe first we need to answer the question whether a human way of thinking or his creativeness includes random elements. For example if an author writing a book uses some randomness in developing some side thread or some episodic character and I would say, that yes - sometimes we think up of something random.
Some algorithms uses randomness at their basis, for example evolutionary algorithms for generating first population.