Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Elementary, my dear Watson

As you know if you've been paying attention, it turns out that the really difficult tasks for artificial intelligence aren't the ones that people think of as the provenance of human geniuses, such as playing championship chess or proving mathematical theorems. It's the ordinary stuff we do every day, such as building a picture of the world around us from the photons hitting our eyeballs, or understanding how to obtain a double tall latte in a strange city (or even a familiar one) that are horrifically difficult.

It turns out the philanthropists [Hah!] at IBM aren't the only people trying to build a database of real world knowledge for the benefit of our future computer overlords. The MIT media lab is doing it too, and they're asking the world to play. If you go to the Open Mind web site, you can contribute to the common sense database yourself. That may or may not interest you, but seeing what kinds of statements constitute the body of real world knowledge, and comprehending how vast is your own store of commonplace facts, will (perhaps) be something of an eye opener.

The quantity of information and the processing power stuffed between your ears is just unbelievable. Check it out, you might have fun.

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