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Androids live among us…

…ok, so perhaps not, but according to the BBC ( there has been a significant step forwards in the development of an artificial intelligence.The Turing Test was proposed by Alan …ok, so perhaps not, but according to the BBC ( there has been a significant step forwards in the development of an artificial intelligence.

The Turing Test was proposed by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence", and is widely considered to be an excellent test of whether a machine is able to 'think'. Essentially it is a text-based game of imitation, testing a machine's ability to display behaviour which cannot be distinguished from that of a human being whilst holding a text-based conversation.

The test doesn't directly deal with the question of whether the computer has so-called 'artificial intelligence', only whether it accurately simulates human behaviour (which can be decidedly unintelligent on occasion). That said, if a machine has genuinely passed the test as the BBC article suggests, then it can be considered a significant milestone in the quest for 'AI' and we should perhaps be on the lookout for cyborg assassins from the future. There is significant doubt however, and the results have been criticised on a number of grounds.

The development of AI - for example cybernetics and reasoning functions wider than pure logic - are likely to contribute significantly to the way we live and work in the coming decades in the same way that they have already done in the last two. The development of Google's search engine for example, beginning in around 1997, is an important example of this and in 2012 Google's official blog referred to the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning using large-scale brain simulation. Even without the benefit of a crystal ball (or a cyborg from the future) it is a relatively safe bet that significant value will be generated out of the processing of big data using machines capable of self-taught learning.

This area has particular resonance with me, as part of my Masters' thesis was on the subject of autonomous navigation systems for planetary exploration. The developments made over the last eight years have really moved us forward in terms of what is achievable and the rate of progress, to my mind, seems to be increasing. As new concepts are developed and moved from the laboratory to our homes and workplaces, I have no doubt that it will be exciting to watch the information age unfold.


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