Monday, May 16, 2005

Artificial Intelligence For $13

Every once in a while, I see something that truly amazes me. Back in the early 80s, I had some grad student friends doing dissertations on Artifical Intelligence. At the time, the topic was almost "Star-Trekkish". After all, who could believe that a computer program could actually learn? Now, thaks to Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, I learn that you can buy this for less than $15. It's a little toy with an embedded AI chip that plays 20 questions. Extremely cool.

In case you're interested, it;s the brainchild (pun intended) of Robin Burger, who wrote a DOS program on a floppy back in 1988 that he handed around to his friends. They would play the game and give the disk back. In later versions, he uploaded it to the Web, so people can play world wide.

The 20 questions game is one of my kids' favorite diversions (and a lifesaver on long car trips, even if they do it mostly with characters from Disney videos). We came across The 20 Questions Website this weekend, and they love it.

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