MIT has launched a new $5 million, 5-year project to build intelligent machines. To do it, the scientists are revisiting the fifty year history of the Artificial Intelligence field, including the shortfalls that led to the stigmas surrounding it, to find the threads that are still worth exploring. The star-studded roster of researchers includes AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, synthetic neurobiologist Ed Boyden, Neil "Things That Think" Gershenfeld, and David Dalrymple, who started grad school at MIT when he was just 14-years-old. Minsky is even proposing a new Turing test for machine intelligence: can the computer read, understand, and explain a children's book. More details after the jump.
From MIT News:
Gershenfeld says he and his fellow MMP members "want to go back and fix what's broken in the foundations of information technology." He says that there are three specific areas – having to do with the mind, memory, and the body – where AI research has become stuck, and each of these will be addressed in specific ways by the new project…
One of the projects being developed by the group is a form of assistive technology they call a brain co-processor. This system, also referred to as a cognitive assistive system, would initially be aimed at people suffering from cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The concept is that it would monitor people's activities and brain functions, determine when they needed help, and provide exactly the right bit of helpful information – for example, the name of a person who just entered the room, and information about when the patient last saw that person – at just the right time.
The same kind of system, members of the group suggest, could also find applications for people without any disability, as a form of brain augmentation – a way to enhance their own abilities, for example by making everything from personal databases of information to all the resources of the internet instantly available just when it's needed. The idea is to make the device as non-invasive and unobtrusive as possible – perhaps something people would simply slip on like a pair of headphones.