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Evolution inspires Artificial Intelligence at Kent


The University of Kent is launching a unique cross-disciplinary degree course that explores artificial intelligence (AI) from the combined perspectives of computer science, philosophy, psychology, biology and electronics.

Championed by technology experts and visionaries ranging from Bill Gates to film-maker George Lucas, AI is about making computers behave intelligently – for instance, by performing tasks requiring the ability to learn, to reason and to cope with unpredicted situations. Lucas told delegates at a recent computing conference in Los Angeles that advancements in AI will vastly change technology ‘to a point where you can talk to a computer game and the game will talk back’. Other important applications include robotics, data mining and computer vision.

Kent’s new degree builds on its well-regarded Computer Science curriculum and integrates a broad spectrum of artificial intelligence topics – including techniques inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution, genetics, neurobiology, cognitive science, insect swarms and logic. Fundamental philosophical issues are also examined – such as whether machines could become conscious.

Dr Colin Johnson, a Senior Lecturer who teaches Natural Computation, said: ‘Many living organisms, from ants to humans, are capable of intelligent behaviour. Billions of years of natural selection have evolved robust and efficient solutions to a myriad of problems. Biology provides a rich source of inspiration for artificial intelligence.’

Simon Thompson, Professor of Logic and Computation, and Director of the Computing Laboratory, said: ‘The new course will give students a head start in a field that is expected to undergo major developments and growth over the next decade.’

The new course - titled Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence - will commence in September 2006.

Gary Hughes | alfa
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