All posts tagged: Computing power

Khot’s insight

One summer afternoon in 2001, while visiting relatives in India, Subhash Khot drifted into his default mode — quietly contemplating the limits of computation. For hours, no one could tell whether the third-year Princeton University graduate student was working or merely sinking deeper into the living-room couch. That night, he woke up, scribbled something down and returned to bed. Over breakfast the next morning, he told his mother that he had come up with an interesting idea. She didn’t know what it was, but her reserved older son seemed unusually happy. Khot’s insight — now called the Unique Games Conjecture — helped him make progress on a problem he was working on at the time, but even Khot and his colleagues did not realize its potential. “It just sounded like an idea that would be nice if it was true,” recalled Khot, now a 36-year-old computer science professor at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. When Khot returned to Princeton, he mentioned the idea to Sanjeev Arora, his doctoral adviser, who advised him …

skeptic society Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

You probably heard the news: a supercomputer has become sentient and has passed the Turing test (i.e., has managed to fool a human being into thinking he was talking to another human being)! Surely the Singularity is around the corner and humanity is either doomed or will soon become god-like. Except, of course, that little of the above is true, and it matters even less. First, let’s get the facts straight: what actually happened was that a chatterbot (i.e., a computer script), not a computer, has passed the Turing test at a competition organized at the Royal Society in London. Second, there is no reason whatsoever to think that the chatterbot in question, named “Eugene Goostman” and designed by Vladimir Veselov, is sentient, or even particularly intelligent. It’s little more than a (clever) parlor trick. Third, this was actually the second time that a chatterbot passed the Turing test, the other one was Cleverbot, back in 2011. Fourth, Eugene only squeaked by, technically convincing “at least 30% of the judges” (a pretty low bar) for …