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For use with Chapter 29
Solid State Electronics

Brutus.1: A Digital Shakespeare
Posted August 3, 1998

In May 1997, an IBM computer named Deep Blue made history. It was the first time that a machine beat the best chess player in the world, Gary Kasparov. After the match, Kasparov commented that he "sensed a new kind of intelligence" in Deep Blue.

You have probably seen science fiction movies with computers and robots. Often they seem more intelligent than humans. However there still is a long way to go before anyone builds a C-3PO from Star Wars or the HAL-9000 seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Computers that seem to think are nothing new. Since the 1960s, there have been programs called bots that appear to think. Many bots are available on the World Wide Web and give advice on everything from relationships to corporate marketing.

Critics of Deep Blue have suggested that the computer really wasn't thinking. Instead it used its ultra-fast processor to examine all the possible chess moves on the board, and then chose the best one. This is not creative thought. It is a routine mathematical procedure, not much different from what goes on in your basic calculator.

As computing power increases (currently, it doubles every year), bigger and better computers may be taught to "think." Some scientists even suggest that in the future individuals may be able to achieve immortality by copying their own memory and personality "files" into a computer.

According to Selmer Bringsjord, an associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, computers must learn to be creative before they show true artificial intelligence. Is this possible? Bringsjord thinks so. He and David Ferrucci have developed a program named Brutus.1 that can write stories. They used computer language to explain the concept of betrayal to Brutus.1. He then used this to write a short story entitled "Betrayal." The story is very simple, but it is a first step.

Imagine...maybe some day in the future, you will find Brutus.1's stories on the best-seller list.

Activity
Go to BotSpot on the World Wide Web www.botspot.com. Chat with Eliza and Shallow Red to find out information on bots. Which gave you the most information? What kinds of things can bots do?

References
Bringsjord, Selmer. "Chess Is too Easy." MIT's Technology Review, Mar/Apr 1998, pp. 23-28.

Sillars, Les. "The New Religion of Computer Consciousness." Alberta Report/Western Report, Vol. 25, Issue 19, April 27, 1998, pp. 34-35.

Web Sites
BotSpot
http://www.botspot.com

 


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