Monday, 3 September, 2007

To dream the possible dream

Some days back, Ram, my senior colleague at L&T Infotech, had emailed me the Turing Award Speech of Dr Raj Reddy, as published in May'96 issue of Communications of the ACM. It remained on my reading wish-list for these many days and finally today I got chance to read it. And I wondered why didn't I read it before!

The key message of Dr. Reddy's speech is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not only a possible dream but rather it has been a reality, which has been demonstrating results for last 40 years.

In this speech, what I liked the most is the answer given to the often-asked question, can AI equal human intelligence? The answer given is, AI can be both more and less than human intelligence. And this answer is illustrated well by two analogies. Firstly, it's just like an electronic book is more and less than a real book. While you can't do all those things such as reading it in a bed, electronic books allow you something that real books can't; e.g., search for words in text, open the right page, change the font size and so on. Similarly, visiting an electronic mall can't give you same experience as that of visiting a real mall, but can give you convenience that real malls can't. The bottom line is AI systems will enhance and not replicate the mental capabilities of human being.

The speech touches upon many points and is a good read for anybody who is generally interested in the area of AI.

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