THE RACE TO BUILD INTELLIGENT MACHINES

COMPUTERS CAN'T READ THE BRITANNICA OR TALK ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS--BUT THEY'RE WORKING ON IT

RODNEY BROOKS GUSHES LIKE A first-time parent about the things his baby can do. "It sits there waving its arm around, watching its arm, reaching for things," he says. These are pretty standard tricks for newborn humans, of course, but then Brooks' "baby" (nicknamed Cog) isn't exactly human. It's a vaguely person-shaped concoction of metal, plastic and silicon, with cameras where its eyes should be and eight 32-bit microprocessors for a brain. Cog is an artificially intelligent computer that is trying to learn about the world the way babies do, programming and reprogramming itself through interactions with the people and objects...

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