Even in their technology pages, major newspapers are forced to use plain english to describe new -- or even old -- concepts. This Washington Post reporter had a difficult task: find a new angle to speak about artificial intelligence (AI).
This brings something like this.
Some scientists believe that by fusing the many systems of the Internet, an artificial being with the combined knowledge of, say, Albert Einstein, Richard Nixon and Britney Spears could be born.
Well, that would be an interesting character! Anyway, it will take times before reaching this respectable goal, mainly because of two huge barriers.
The first is that computers have a hard time reading Web pages because the files are labeled in different ways, some more unconventional than others. That's why Active Buddy programmers need to tell SmarterChild where to look for the weather; it would be a significantly more difficult task to let him find it.
A group led by Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web and director of the W3 Consortium, hopes to fix some of that by assigning keywords or tags to text, sounds and images. The task of renaming pages, however, must be done manually and will take years to complete.
[Note: SmarterChild is the "chatterbot" created by Active Buddy Inc; used by the author to describe some of the possibilities of interaction between the Web and a future *intelligent* system.]
Another wall that AI projects have hit is that while online entities like SmarterChild can regurgitate and process information more accurately and faster than any human, they lack common sense, a basic grounding of knowledge that is obvious to any young child. The computer mind, for instance, has had difficulty understanding concepts like "once people die, they stop buying things" or "trees don't grow in cars."
Ariana Eunjung Cha then looks at projects currently underway at the MIT, the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corp. or the Free University of Brussels.
All in all, an enjoyable story to read this weekend.
Source: Ariana Eunjung Cha, The Washington Post, September 6, 2002