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EMU Professor Says Jeopardy/IBM Experiment Moves Computers One Step Closer to ‘Holy Grail’ of Artificial Intelligence

YPSILANTI, Mich. Feb. 15, 2011 Detroit

ANSWER: Who is Eminem?

This type of pop-culture infused wordplay has made the long-running game show "Jeopardy" popular.

It is the same language ambiguity that has long challenged the development of artificial intelligence – until now.

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Bill Sverdlik Eastern Michigan University

Sverdlik, whose area of expertise is artificial intelligence, will be watching the event.

The IBM Challenge is much more than a computer playing a game, Sverdlik said.

"Many of the previous computer/human challenges involved complete knowledge games," Sverdlik said. "Chess and checkers are two examples of such games. Complete knowledge means that both adversaries have total knowledge of the current state of the game, unlike the card game bridge or poker, where cards are hidden from players. Winning a complete knowledge game involves many strategies, but perhaps the most important one is the ability to generate positions several moves into the future. This is easy for a computer to do."

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And that knowledge can lead to a better understanding of how humans process information.

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Even if you don’t know anything about AI, this experiment, aside from its entertainment value, does provide a peak into the future.

"Any machine/human competition grabs at the imagination. Robbie the Robot, HAL, I Robot – they raise the possibilities of machines endowed with human qualities and human frailties and challenge us to question what exactly separates us from a machine. It’s fun to think about," said Sverdlik.

"This is a coming technology. Someday soon, we all will be conversing with a computer on matters more significant than dialing a phone number or changing the radio station."

Eastern Michigan University

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