Artificial Intelligence: More Real Than Ever
There was a time when the phrase "artificial intelligence" evoked images of supercomputers taking over the world, à la Skynet, the villainous computer network of The Terminator film series. Now the technology is part of everyday life. Consumers armed with smartphones and Web-connected PCs are tapping into AI software to dictate e-mail, book restaurant reservations, and find the best way to drive home. And researchers are exploring the potential for harnessing it for more important tasks and in surprising ways: One computer is playing Jeopardy! against former champions, as one step in developing computers that humans can talk to and talk with as naturally as they do each other. Here's a tour of some of the up-and-coming AI technologies.