Saturday, February 19, 2011

Information technology: Mind games

By Wednesday night, the machine appeared to be heading for an overwhelming victory against two human contestants who had scored the best results in the 27-year history of the middle-brow, question-and-answer series.

This may sound a bit of an anti-climax compared to the last time the US computer giant pitted its machines against raw human brainpower. Fourteen years ago, IBM’s purpose-built Deep Blue machine edged past world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match by two games to one, with three draws.

But in fact the move from the pure mathematics realm of chess to the less orderly world of language and popular culture represents a big leap for computing – and one that could have an impact surprisingly quickly on both everyday life and business competitiveness.

The history of artificial intelligence is full of false dawns. Attempts to build machines capable of emulating human thought seem only to prove that the subtlety of the human mind cannot be reduced to an algorithm. Yet with advances such as the quiz show-playing system, big steps are being made in techniques closely linked to machine intelligence.


No comments: