Computer Intelligence

I've been working on a system for recommending courses to students based on the past performance of similar students. Hopefully the system will be a useful tool for students wishing to gain some idea of what courses they might do well in. However another purpose of designing this system is to compare it with an artificial intelligence advising system that is being worked on in the computer science department. The comparison would be to see how artifical intelligence does with planning for students versus a netflix style advising system (technical term is collaborative filtering).

What is amazing about this to me is the possible use of a computer as an advisor. I think of advising decisions as complex and personal. To think that artifical intelligence has come so far as to be considered for this type of process shows just how far computing has come. Think about early computers. They filled entire rooms and required intensive set up to perform very simple computations. Now we use computers in the military (automated drones), selecting movies (netflix), playing chess, winning jeapordy, and finding love (match.com, eHarmony, etc). The early computer scientist would be astounded by how much has been done in such a short time. So the question is: what is possible in the future?

How smart can computers be? Clearly a computer can store more information and process it more quickly then a human. But that is not necessarily intelligence. When it comes to problem solving computers have been able to beat humans in chess and 'discover' the laws of physics. However these are still cases of a computer executing an algorithm that was human designed.

So will computers ever think the same way as humans? Maybe not. Will they be able to solve problems humans can't? I think that is more likely. Given my limited knowledge on AI I'm really just speculating at this point. But it is an interesting question to consider. I think of computers as just following a set of instructions to solve problems. Humans invent their own instructions for solving problems. Maybe one day computers will too.

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