Artificial Intelligence

Several years ago I read that computer researchers had given up on developing human-level artificial intelligence. “That’s pretty pathetic”, I thought. We’ve got 6 billion working examples, and the cost/performance of computers is getting low enough to make it feasible. How hard can it be?

So I decided to give it a shot. I read some textbooks explaining how human memories are formed and implemented the process in software.

The software seemed to work, but testing was a problem. Like a human brain it learns from sensory input, but your average desktop computer back then didn’t have much more than a keyboard and mouse for input. I could have coded up a virtual world to provide fake sensory input, but it didn’t seem worth the effort. The virtual world would have required several times more work than the AI software itself. So I put it on hold.

Now I’m dusting off the code and porting it to Android. I’m not sure what inputs and outputs to use just yet, but my Android smart phone has a microphone, camera, touch screen, accelerometer, and magnetic sensor as inputs, and a speaker, vibrator, and screen for output. I’m spoiled for choice.

It’s tempting to try to reproduce Pavlov’s experiment. Ring a bell, and the phone vibrates. Not quite human-level intelligence, but sound recognition is a difficult problem, so it’s a worthwhile challenge.

The learning algorithms might also be useful in the Heritage Health Prize. I didn’t get around to entering the Netflix Challenge a few years ago, but with $3 million up for grabs this time it might be worth a try.

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