Computers can defeat grandmasters at chess and trump the best trivia-hounds at Jeopardy!. Today they can help us navigate the drive home; soon they’ll be doing the driving for us. Sixty years ago, Artificial Intelligence - "AI" - was in its infancy. Now it promises to transform our world beyond recognition. In this two part series, science journalist Dan Falk explores the new promise and peril of intelligent machines. Part 2 airs Wednesday, September 18.
Our digital devices are getting more sophisticated every day. Sometimes they talk to us, like the GPS systems in our cars. Sometimes we talk to them, like when use an i-Phone and ask "Siri" - the phone’s digital, personal assistant - to recommend a nearby restaurant. We have other computers that play chess - and play it so well that they can defeat the best human grand-masters.
And then there’s IBM’s Watson, the computer that was able to beat the best human trivia-hounds on the game show, Jeopardy!
It’s tempting to use the word "intelligent" to describe these machines, but are they actually thinking?