Townhouse Books

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Arguing A.I.: Sam Williams

Artificial intelligence, much like fusion research, has claimed to be within reach of its ultimate goal for the last 30 years. There's always a breakthrough projected just around the corner, but that assertion is based more on public relations and funding than any actual progress.

Once upon a time the public goal of AI was to produce a computer that could solve problems that typically require a human. Creating a machine that can use language, recognize objects, and generally employ cognition were originally the goal. In the past forty years researchers have tried to solve the problem of artificial intelligence from the bottom up and the top down, and the closest we have to HAL are some basic systems that can track moving objects, sometimes, and some systems that use techniques of machine learning, but we've made no basic progress towards a truly intelligent machine.

The book is laid out as an introduction to the world of artificial intelligence, four profiles of figures in the field and a summary that tries to give an overview of the fictional treatment of Artificial Intelligence and compares it to the reality. If you're interested in the subject, Arguing A.I. is an interesting overview of the current problems in the field, but it's not the best introduction. It's also very short, so if you can check it out or borrow it, do so, but it's not worth the $15 you'd pay if you buy it through Amazon.

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