May 30, 2007
Artificial intelligence (AI) is now advancing at such a rapid clip that it has the potential to transform our world in both exciting and disturbing ways. Computers have already been designed that are capable of driving cars, playing soccer, and finding and organizing information on the Web in ways that no human could. With each new gain in processing power, will scientists soon be able to create supercomputers that can read a newspaper with understanding, write a news story, create novels, or even formulate laws? And if machine intelligence advances beyond human intelligence, will we need to start talking about a computer’s intentions?
These are some of the questions discussed by computer scientist J. Storrs Hall in this fascinating guide for the general reader to the latest developments in artificial intelligence. Drawing on a thirty-year career, Hall reviews the history of AI, discussing some of the major roadblocks that the field has recently overcome, and he predicts the probable achievements in the near future. There is new excitement in the field over the amazing capabilities of the latest robots and renewed optimism that the goal of achieving human-level intelligence is reachable.
But what will this mean for society and the relations between technology and human beings? Soon, ethical concerns will arise, and programmers will need to begin thinking about the computer counterparts of moral codes and how ethical interactions between humans and their machines will eventually affect society as a whole. Weaving disparate threats together in an enlightening manner from cybernetics, computer science, psychology, philosophy of mind, neuroscience, game theory, and economics, Hall provides an intriguing glimpse into the astonishing possibilities and dilemmas on the horizon.
J. Storrs Hall, Ph.D., the founding chief scientist of Nanorex, Inc., is a research fellow for the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing and the author of Nanofuture: What’s Next for Nanotechnology, the “Nanotechnologies” section for The Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy, and numerous scientific articles. He has designed technology for NASA and was a computer systems architect at the Laboratory for Computer Science Research at Rutgers University from 1985 to 1997.