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Robots aren’t very smart, according to Selmer Bringsjord, Rensselaer professor of cognitive science. A clever toddler can conduct a more understandable conversation than the best of today’s artificial intelligence (AI) devices. A computer may be able to win at chess by quickly testing vast numbers of possible moves, but if someone changes the rules of the game, the computer will be stymied, and the human will win.

“We are still the most intelligent entities in the known universe,” says Bringsjord, who chairs Rensselaer’s Department of Cognitive Science.

But humans want smarter AI systems to do everything from entertaining us in the newest interactive game to simulating battlefield scenarios as an aid to combat planning.

Selmer Bringsjord
Selmer Bringsjord
AP/Wide World Photo
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Rensselaer’s cognitive science researchers are working on the challenge. They conduct research aimed at understanding how humans think and then make use of that knowledge to build better artificial intelligence systems and to engineer improved interfaces between artificial and natural cognitive systems.

Cognitive science — understanding why we’re so smart — is an irresistible subject to humans, says Bringsjord. Studies go back, arguably, to Aristotle and certainly to Hobbes, who speculated that all human intelligence consists of mechanical computations.

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by Sheila Nason Continued
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

 
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