A rather interesting article in the EETimes suggests that the holy grail of artificial intelligence, the ability to pass the Turing Test, may become a reality later this year courtesy of a collaboration between IBM and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The Turing Test was first described by Alan Turing back in 1950, and requires a human being acting as a judge to hold a natural language conversation with a machine and with another human being and not be able to tell which is which. So far, no machine has been able to pass this simple test.
But now the AI experts at RPI reckon that by using the IBM Blue Gene, the fastest computer in the world, they can crack it before the year is out.
The secret would appear to be Star Trek. Or at least the fact that the AI team have been working on a Star Trek-alike holodeck system. The team are creating a synthetic character with a back story, a huge knowledge base that includes such things as education, upbringing, family and so on. "We want to engineer, from the start, a full-blown intelligent character and converse with him in an interactive environment like the holodeck from Star Trek" says the leader of the research project, and head of the RPI Cognitive Science Department, Selmer Bringsjord. The team reckon that they have the intelligence algorithm sorted and juts need to couple it to a supercomputer of the Blue Gene ilk in order to get the real time performance that would enable it to beat the Turing test.
Sounds logical, captain...