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November 21, 2002

The Education of HAL

For an interesting look at pattern-matching artificial intelligence, meet Alan. Developed by the A-i.com site, Alan is a "chatbot" and can provide an entertaining few minutes distraction. You can also speak to HAL, the Child-Machine, in the nursery or even raise one of your own. A bit too sci-fi for you? In Alan's own words: "When it comes to your relationship with non-human creatures, you humans see only two possible scenarios: an enemy or a slave. Look at your myths, your movies, and your books. When it comes to artificial intelligence, there is one major plot: robots gain consciousness; robots take over humanity; humanity fights back. Maybe you need to grow up, gain some self-confidence. No one is trying to take over your world just yet." The site is pursuing a serious line of research and is taking a long-term, behaviourist approach to teaching HAL how to converse.

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