Rethinking artificial intelligence
By DAVID L. CHANDLER - MIT NEWS
Added: Mon, 07 Dec 2009 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to SPS for the link.
The field of artificial-intelligence research (AI), founded more than 50 years ago, seems to many researchers to have spent much of that time wandering in the wilderness, swapping hugely ambitious goals for a relatively modest set of actual accomplishments. Now, some of the pioneers of the field, joined by later generations of thinkers, are gearing up for a massive âdo-overâ of the whole idea.
This time, they are determined to get it right — and, with the advantages of hindsight, experience, the rapid growth of new technologies and insights from the new field of computational neuroscience, they think they have a good shot at it.
The new project, launched with an initial $5 million grant and a five-year timetable, is called the Mind Machine Project, or MMP, a loosely bound collaboration of about two dozen professors, researchers, students and postdocs. According to Neil Gershenfeld, one of the leaders of MMP and director of MITâs Center for Bits and Atoms, one of the projectâs goals is to create intelligent machines — âwhatever that means.â
The project is ârevisiting fundamental assumptionsâ in all of the areas encompassed by the field of AI, including the nature of the mind and of memory, and how intelligence can be manifested in physical form, says Gershenfeld, professor of media arts and sciences. âEssentially, we want to rewind to 30 years ago and revisit some ideas that had gotten frozen,â he says, adding that the new group hopes to correct âfundamental mistakesâ made in AI research over the years.
The birth of AI as a concept and a field of study is generally dated to a conference in the summer of 1956, where the idea took off with projections of swift success. One of that meetingâs participants, Herbert Simon, predicted in the 1960s, âMachines will be capable, within 20 years, of doing any work a man can do.â Yet two decades beyond that horizon, that goal now seems to many to be as elusive as ever.
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