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Web May Hold the Key to Achieving Artificial Intelligence
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Internet; Artificial intelligence
Author: Ariana Eunjung Cha
Date: Sep 6, 2002
Start Page: A.01
Section: A SECTION

The electronic personalities of this generation use the vast repository of information on the World Wide Web as their memory bank, not just some rigid database. To answer questions about baseball, for instance, SmarterChild scours the Web site of SportsTicker Enterprises LP; for spelling, it goes to the American Heritage Dictionary online; for the weather, it visits

For the most part, bots like SmarterChild are able to talk only about certain established topics. But some have been able to reach a touchstone of artificial intelligence -- passing the Turing Test, in which researchers ask humans to guess whether they are communicating with a person or a machine. If people can't tell the difference, the machines are deemed to have passed the test.

Another wall that AI projects have hit is that while online entities like SmarterChild can regurgitate and process information more accurately and faster than any human, they lack common sense, a basic grounding of knowledge that is obvious to any young child. The computer mind, for instance, has had difficulty understanding concepts like "once people die, they stop buying things" or "trees don't grow in cars."

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