Van Neumann and other computer scientists of the 20th century envisioned a time when their new supercomputers would be intelligent in the same way one of us is — AI, Artificial Intelligence. It was even predicted that in the “near” future we would be able to put this intelligence into a machine that would be capable of reproduction. Unfortunately, this vision of a single space probe that creates a colony of metallurgy and terra-morphing robots is still outside of our grasp.
These elements fill our sci-fi movies and books, from The Matrix to Michael Crichton’s Prey. So at the beginning of the 21st century it is appropriate that we look at the possibilities of AI — or A-Life if you will — and evaluate our position. Is it possible to pass the all important touring test? Can we produce A-life that is capable of self-reproduction? Or are we just blowing hot air?
Brian Dillon, ’05 Mt. Vernon, IA
Majors: Computer Science and Math
Sponsor: Leon Tabak