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News Link • Technology: Software

The Next Big Thing You Missed: The Quest to Give Computers the Power of Imagination

•, By Issie Lapowsky
 You’d probably point to a few examples in your home–a round wooden kitchen table, a square plastic kiddie table, a massive rectangular dining room table. “This is a table,” you’d say, three or four times, and after a while, the child would start identifying other tables, regardless of their shape, size, or color.

If you want to teach a modern computer the meaning of the word table, the process isn’t much different–except that you can’t stop at three or four examples. When dealing with a machine, you have to show it millions of tables before it can accurately identify a table on its own. This typically is called artificial intelligence, but D. Scott Phoenix doesn’t see it that way. “It’s actually pretty dumb,” says Phoenix, the founder of the three-year-old Silicon Valley startup Vicarious. Intelligence, he explains, is “being able to deduce something from very few examples.”

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