Could tutoring a computer be the way to develop machines that talk back?

April 18, 2001 | Source: ZDNet (UK)

HAL, a software program designed by Dutch-based firm Artificial Intelligence to learn language, currently passes for a 18 month old child and has a 50 or 60 word vocabulary.

By the end of 2003, AI expects to have a version of HAL capable of talking like a three-year-old and by 2005 hopes it will have the conversational skills of an adult.

HAL uses simple learning algorithms based on Bayesian statistical analysis. A child psychologist interacts with HAL, correcting mistakes and nurturing correct use of words and sentences.

Jason Hutchens, chief scientist and programmer on the HAL project, says this basic probabilistic approach enables the computer to form its own “atoms” of language, which turn out to be coherent words and sentences.