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Computer Pioneer: Don't Expect 'Human Like' Computers

Computer Pioneer: Don't Expect 'Human Like' Computers

  Forecasters back in the sixties and seventies were predicting a world filled with androids and artificial intelligence, where computers would either threaten to take over your life, like Hal 9000 in '2001, a Space Odyssey' or make your life easier, like Dorian in the new Fox cop drama 'Almost Human.'

  So here we are in 2013.  Where is my android butler who will greet me with a smile when I get home at night?

  Not happening, says Lofti Zadeh, 92, who is considered the Father of Artificial Intelligence.

  Zadeh in 1965 came up with the theory of what is called 'Fuzzy Logic,' the way to program computers to make imprecise decisions.  In a word, it was designed to make computers think like humans.

  Zadeh talked with 1200 WOAI news during a stop in San Antonio to be honored at the Annual World conference on Soft Computing, which is underway at the Marriott Riverwalk, and also to talk with students at UTSA.

  "It is the fallacy of the successful first step," Zadeh said of predictions that in a few years computers would be doing our laundry and being a buddy we would turn to in a crisis.  "You succeed at something, and you think that will continue."

  Even though computers have made major advances since the mid sixties, with a cell phone today containing more computing power than the main frames that powered the Apollo Moon landing, Zadeh says that doesn't mean that computers that love, reason, and truly think or talk are possible.

  "There is nothing to suggest that in a few year's time, a machine could truly understand natural languages," he said.  "It can give you the impression that it understands, but it could never really understand."

  Zadeh cited several other activities that a computer is not likely to be able to achieve.  He says computers can do facial recognition but cannot look at photographs of two people, and determine that they are related.  Computers can play music, but they can't compose music on the style of a Beethoven.  A computerized car can be driven driverlessly on America's logical roads, as Google is attempting to pioneer, but a computer cannot drive a car on the streets of Calcutta, where drivers make up the rules as they go along.

  So even though it might be cool to have a Dorian as a companion or a David, the character in the Steven Spielberg movie 'A.I.' at hand, or a Hal 9000 making decisions, the Father of Artificial Intelligence doesn't see it happening.

  "At the time when everybody was making all of these wonderful predictions, I was cautioning," he said.  "I was telling them, it's not as simple as that."

 

 

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