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Communications of the ACM


Computational Linguistics Finds Its Voice

cute bot with red-lettered 'S'up?' on front, illustration

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Whether computers can actually "think" and "feel" is a question that has long fascinated society. Alan M. Turing introduced a test for gauging machine intelligence as early as 1950. Movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars have only served to fuel these thoughts, but while the concept was once confined to science fiction, it is rapidly emerging as a serious topic of discussion.

Thanks to enormous advances in artificial intelligence (AI)—and particularly deep learning—computers can now converse with humans in seemingly realistic ways. In a few cases, the dialog has become so convincing that people have deemed machines sentient. A recent example involves former Google data scientist Blake Lemoine, who published human-to-machine discussions with an AI system called LaMDA.a


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