The Future of Mankind

A Question of Limits




Copyright Meghan McCracken, Jeff McGee, Marianne Pike and David Wheatley, 2004

What is artificial intelligence being used for today?


Robotic Pets

The most familiar robot product on the market today is AIBO, Sony's version of the robotic pet dog. Available for retail sale, this machine seems relatively harmless. It can walk, make sounds, play with its owners and others, and provide those unable to own a pet with a close alternative.

Another commercially-available toy is "My Real Baby". Life-like reactions and expressions, and the ability to interact with the child is a key difference between MY REAL BABY and other dolls. "Girls have played with dolls for generations. What's so exciting is the increasing ability to use breakthrough technology to refresh, enhance and enrich those classic play patterns," noted child psychologist, Gar Roper, Ph.D., who has conducted child focus groups with MY REAL BABY. "Hasbro has achieved this with the introduction of MY REAL BABY, a doll that actually fosters a preschooler's wish to play at nurturing and caring, and provides the child with an appealing, unique experience." (source)

Artificial Intelligence Gaming Software

Deep Blue was the first computer system to win a chess game against a reigning world champion, Garry Kasparov, under regular time controls. This first win occurred on February 10, 1996, and Deep Blue - Kasparov, 1996, Game 1 is a famous chess game. However, Kasparov won 3 games and drew 2 of the following games, beating Deep Blue by a score of 4-2. Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3.5-2.5, ending on May 11th. Deep Blue thus became the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls.

The project was started as "ChipTest" at Carnegie Mellon University by Feng-hsiung Hsu; the computer system produced was named Deep Thought after the fictional computer of the same name from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Hsu joined IBM in 1989 and worked with Murray Campbell on parallel computing problems. Deep Blue was developed out of this. The system derives its playing strength mainly out of brute force computing power. It is a massively parallel, 30-node, RS/6000, SP-based computer system enhanced with 480 special purpose VLSI chess processors. Its chess playing program is written in C and runs under the AIX operating system. It is capable of evaluating 100,000,000 positions per second. (source)