What's the Latest Development?
As neuroscientists come to better understand how the human brain recognizes patterns in large groups of data, such that we can identify a familiar face in a crowd or spot the right exit sign on the interstate, engineers of artificial intelligence are reaping the rewards. As a result of recent developments, "technology companies are reporting startling gains in fields as diverse as computer vision, speech recognition and the identification of promising new molecules for designing drugs. ... They offer the promise of machines that converse with humans and perform tasks like driving cars and working in factories, raising the specter of automated robots that could replace human workers."
What's the Big Idea?
After decades of slow gains, the field of artificial intelligence has learned to be more conservative in its estimates of what is possible and what is not. But in the last months alone, substantial developments in "deep learning" have increased the speed and accuracy of artificial neural networks. Developments in pattern recognition also have applications in marketing and law enforcement. "With greater accuracy, for example, marketers can comb large databases of consumer behavior to get more precise information on buying habits. And improvements in facial recognition are likely to make surveillance technology cheaper and more commonplace."
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