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One of the things that our brains excel at is the ability to recognize what things are, even when presented with an incomplete set of data. If we know only that an animal is sold in pet stores and stuffs food in its cheeks, for instance, we can be pretty certain that the animal in question is a hamster. Now, for the first time ever, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a DNA-based artificial neural network that can do the same thing ... albeit on a very basic level. They believe that it could have huge implications for the development of true artificial intelligence.
Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have been able to create computers that learn language by doing something that many people consider a last resort when tackling an unfamiliar task - reading the manual (or RTBM). Beginning with virtually no prior knowledge, one machine-learning system was able to infer the meanings of words by reviewing instructions posted on Microsoft's website detailing how to install a piece of software on a Windows PC, while another was able to learn how to play Sid Meier's empire-building Civilization II strategy computer game by reading the gameplay manual.
A reporter for the New York Herald wrote on March 13 that he came across the inventor in a small café, looking shaken after being hit by 3.5 million volts, "I am afraid," said Tesla, "that you won't find me a pleasant companion tonight. The fact is I was almost killed today. The spark jumped three feet through the air and struck me here on the right shoulder. If my assistant had not turned off the current instantly in might have been the end of me." Tesla, on contact with the resonating electromagnetic charge, found himself outside his time-frame reference. He reported that he could see the immediate past - present and future, all at once. But he was paralyzed within the electromagnetic field, unable to help himself. His assistant, by turning off the current, released Tesla before any permanent damage was done.