Steve Connor: They're fast but still no match for the human brain


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The Independent Online

Alan Turing was a brilliant scientist so it should not be assumed he really thought computers could show the sort of intelligence displayed by the human mind. Indeed, he referred to his famous test as an "imitation game", for that is what it really is – the imitation of intelligence by digital machines.

It is interesting that the Turing test conducted in India was mediated through keyboards and typed messages. No computer is a match for the intelligence shown by the human brain when it comes to vocal communication. Ten years after 2001, we still do not have the verbally fluent HAL of Arthur C Clarke's science fiction classic.

Computers are good at games such as chess, but only because they can compute vast numbers of moves in fractions of a second. They cannot plan strategically as we can using the brain's superior pattern-recognition.

Many people would say that a house fly is not intelligent. Yet the fly can still do things that computers find difficult to achieve, like recognising a rolled-up newspaper and taking evasive action within milliseconds. The intelligence of higher animals, such as dolphins and chimps, never mind humans, is of a completely different nature from the calculating power of the fastest supercomputers.

Computers are still no match for the natural intelligence of the human brain. Machine intelligence is artificial, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.