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Artificial Intelligence

November 14, 1997 • Volume 7, Issue 42
Are scientists close to creating a machine that 'thinks'?
By David Masci

Introduction

“Cog” a robot developed by Rodney A. Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses trial and error to “learn” in the same way a child would. (Photo Credit: MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab)
“Cog” a robot developed by Rodney A. Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, uses trial and error to “learn” in the same way a child would. (Photo Credit: MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab)

The defeat last summer of Russian chess master Garry Kasparov by IBM's Deep Blue computer was seen by some as a milestone in the development of “thinking” machines. But Deep Blue, while an impressive chess player, does not remotely demonstrate humanlike thinking. Indeed, many computer scientists say that a machine that emulates human thought is centuries away, or perhaps not even possible at all. Others argue that increases in computing power in recent years and improved understanding of the human mind will lead to thinking machines in the near future. Meanwhile, robots, “expert systems” and other developments that have resulted from artificial intelligence research are being used in more and more real-world applications by companies ranging from General Motors to American Express.

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