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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

USC Computer Science Class to Study Borg, Lt Cmdr Data

Students in a new computer science class at the University of Southern California will write programming code for the Borg, and will study the emergence of emotions in the android character Data.

The class, called "Intelligent Agents and Science Fiction," will use Star Trek and classic stories by Isaac Asimov as problem sets for instruction in artificial intelligence (AI). It will be offered in the fall semester to undergraduates at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
"Computer science is catching up with the ideas in these stories," says Milind Tambe, the associate professor who designed the class and will teach it. Science fiction, he continues, "is a great motivator and it provides context, generating excitement about artificial intelligence topics in general, and agents and multi-agent systems in particular."

"Agents," in AI lingo, are essentially the "minds" of artificial beings which can create strategies to achieve ends and even negotiate with each other to cooperate while doing so. Part of the study will involve Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics." (Asimov was an inspiration to Dr. Noonien Soong, as mentioned in "Datalore.") The Borg will be used as an example of "distributed intelligence" (one mind in many bodies). You can see the full press release at this link. No word yet on how the Borg code will be used once it's created ... maybe you should prepare to be assimilated, just in case.

Resistance is Futile!


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