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Heuristics (Terra Futura)

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Heuristics was a field in which a technique was created for solving a problem that a conventional technique could not solve. It sacrificed optimality, completeness, accuracy, and/or precision for speed. This was the first step towards true artificial intelligence.

Background

There was that many people had about the future. It was Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the 1950s, electronic computers were introduced. Some of these could pick up blocks. Some could play checkers. Some could even solve algebra problems. It was thought that artificial intelligence on the level of humans was not too far away. They were wrong. By 1974, it was clear that many of the predictions of 2001: A Space Odyssey concerning robots were not coming to pass. Enthusiasm peaked again in the 1980s when Japan started the Fifth Generation Computer Systems Project. The goal was to allow computers to speak and reason like humans and to figure out what humans want. The 1990s was supposed to be the deadline. However, the project failed. In 1997, when IBM's Deep Blue defeated chess-champion Gary Kasparov, it became clear that many computers could not think. It was not until the early 21st century that research into artificial intelligence really took off.

Description

Tech Level: 10

Expert systems had the wisdom and experience of a human encoded in them. Heuristics followed a formal, rule-based system. This led to many advances in computer science. Early advances were crude. Some still used the traditional top-down approach like STAIR (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot). Others, such as LAGR (Learning Applied to Ground Robots) and ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), used the new bottom-up approach through learning. LAGR, in particular, used a neural network. STAIR, LAGR, and ASIMO still had the intelligence of a cockroach. In 2011, however, IBM came out with a supercomputer called Watson. Watson won the quiz show Jeopardy!, beating the humans by far. After that, Watson's creators started seeking applications for medical purposes. IBM made a deal with the Japanese government over Watson's medical applications. Japan had the biggest problems in the medical industry. Watson revolutionized the medical industry and drove down the cost of healthcare. Eventually, robot surgeons and cooks became possible. Robots fit many different jobs. Heuristics was still only the first step toward true AI. The second involved finding out how the brain works.

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