Treating Computers like toddlers: How Austin engineers are on the cusp of the artificial intelligence revolution

By Will Anderson

Doug Lenat’s Cyc computing engine relies on a vast database of logical rules to help AI make connections between problems that humans take for granted. Goldman Sachs, The Cleveland Clinic and the National Security Agency have already reportedly employed it for various tasks, from helping with medical research to tracking down terrorists.

An Austin man is trying to teach computers how to think on their own by feeding them 15 million toddler-approved rules of logic, such as “You can’t be in two places at the same time,” and “You can’t pick something up unless you’re near it.”

That is the story of Doug Lenat, a former Stanford computer science professor out to remake artificial intelligence. Wired magazine highlighted his story in a piece called “One Genius’ Lonely Crusade to Teach a Computer Common Sense” that was published Thursday. The ABJ chronicled his company’s endeavor in October.

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