Saturday, December 12, 2009

Artificial Intelligence Revived by Mind Machine Project

Artificial Intelligence, the effort to create smart machines, got a bad reputation because it failed to live up to its promise. Intelligence turned out to be much more complicated than anyone thought.

Now, a group of some of the smartest people in the world have teamed up to try to create the smartest machines in the world. People like Marvin Minsky (right) and Neil Gershenfeld are combining efforts to revive the dream of artificial intelligence. They call the project the Mind Machine Project (MMP). The high-level goal of the Mind Machine project is to reconcile natural intelligence with machine intelligence, and in doing so develop and engineer a class of intelligent machines.

The work of MMP spans four intellectual generations, revisiting fundamental assumptions about the nature of the brain, cognition, computing, and intelligence. The project is based on the belief that, by bringing together current advances in each of these areas with insights from their roots, it will be possible to fulfill the early vision of artificial intelligence.

Mind (models for thought), Memory (accumulating and using experience), Body (scalable substrates to embody intelligence), and Brain/Intent (looking for advanced applications of these technologies, such as "non-chemical based" solutions for psychiatric treatments and brain prostheses).

Based in the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at MIT, MMP brings together researchers in integrated teams from CBA, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and the Media Lab, as well as a network of institutional partners.

The work is divided into teams under the broad categories of Mind, Body, Memory, and Brain/Intent.

Mind: Develop a software model capable of understanding human social contexts- the signpost that establish these contexts, and the behaviors and conventions associated with them.
Research areas: hierarchical and reflective common sense
Lead researchers: Marvin Minsky (right), Patrick Winston
Body: Explore candidate physical systems as substrate for embodied intelligence
Research areas: recongurable asynchronous logic automata, propagators
Lead researchers: Neil Gershenfeld, Ben Recht, Gerry Sussman
Memory: Further the study of data storage and knowledge representation in the brain; generalize the concept of memory for applicability outside embodied local actor context
Research areas: common sense
Lead researcher: Henry Lieberman
Brain and Intent: Study the embodiment of intent in neural systems. It incorporates wet laboratory and clinical components, as well as a mathematical modeling and representation component. Develop functional brain and neuron interfacing abilities. Use intent-based models to facilitate representation and exchange of information.
Research areas: wet computer, brain language, brain interfaces
Lead researchers: Newton Howard, Sebastian Seung, Ed Boyden

Click on the heading above to go to the Mind Machine Project site.

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