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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Progress in Artificial Intelligence Brings Wonders and Fears

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

STANFORD, Calif. -- At the dawn of the modern computer era, two Pentagon-financed laboratories bracketed Stanford University. At one laboratory, a small group of scientists and engineers worked to replace the human mind, while at the other, a similar group worked to augment it.

In 1963 the mathematician-turned-computer scientist John McCarthy started the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The researchers believed that it would take only a decade to create a thinking machine. Also that year the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart formed what would become the Augmentation Research Center to pursue a radically different goal--designing a computing system that would instead "bootstrap" the human intelligence of small groups of scientists and engineers.

For the past four decades that basic tension between artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation--A.I. versus I.A.--has been at the heart of progress in computing science as the field has produced a series of ever more powerful technologies that are transforming the world. ... The implications of progress in A.I. are being brought into sharp relief now by the broadcasting of a recorded competition pitting the I.B.M. computing system named Watson against the two best human Jeopardy players, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

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