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AI is at the centre of a new enterprise to build computational models of intelligence. The main assumption is that intelligence (human or otherwise) can be represented in terms of symbol structures and symbolic operations which can be programmed in a digital computer. There is much debate as to whether such an appropriately programmed computer would be a mind, or would merely simulate one, but AI researchers need not wait for the conclusion to that debate, nor for the hypothetical computer that could model all of human intelligence. Aspects of intelligent behaviour, such as solving problems, making inferences, learning, and understanding language, have already been coded as computer programs, and within very limited domains, such as identifying diseases of soybean plants, AI programs can outperform human experts. Now the great challenge of AI is to find ways of representing the commonsense knowledge and experience that enable people to carry out everyday activities such as holding a wide-ranging conversation, or finding their way along a busy street. Conventional digital computers may be capable of running such programs, or we may need to develop new machines that can support the complexity of human thought.

Cogsweb Project: luisgh@cogs.susx.ac.uk