Artificial intelligence is still a ways off :).
Each year there is a competition known well by those in the field of artificial intelligence called the Loebner Prize. The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence is to make it indistinguishable from real intelligence (so someday geeks like me can just code up a friend in C++). In the 1950s, Alan Turing proposed a test–cleverly named the Turing Test–to measure an AI’s level of intelligence, which the Loebner Prize competition uses to select their winner. The contestants basically write software to implement their artificial entities, and then judges chat with both real humans and the artificial entities and then guess which ones are real humans and which ones are not.
Criticisms of the accuracy of the Turing Test aside, today I saw something that reminded me of just how far off truly intelligent artificial beings really are. I was watching a video on YouTube from Bill Maher’s TV show and he threw out some statistic like “8 kids are shot and killed with guns every day in America.” Since that seemed like an awfully high number I decided to check into it. So I pull up Google and type in “kids shot”. Not my best Google search query ever, but I figured it would get the job done. Google dutifully returned a saddening number of news stories about kids being shot by guns. It also came back with a single advertisement generated by good ‘ole Adwords…
Not only is the statistic true, if you click on that advertisement, it goes to a toy gun that Target is selling! If Target ran a TV ad for toy guns right after a news story of a kid getting shot, they’d have a PR nightmare on their hands. Lucky for them, you can’t yet blame a computer for doing the Adwords equivalent.