Have you ever considered the idea that the Turing test has set computer research back almost two generations? No, to say "set it back" is incorrect. Rather, maybe our belief that the Turing test was the Holy Grail of computer design set high-tech development off in the wrong direction from the get-go.
Ever since Alan Turing proposed the idea in his paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence," published in 1950, an awful lot of people have been hoodwinked into thinking that they could show how smart they were by creating a computer that could fool someone else into thinking they were talking to a human being.
By trying to make computers more intelligent, maybe we've been barking up the wrong tree, thinking an intelligent computer would be more useful to us. We have business intelligence, intelligent networks, the semantic Web, and speech technology that claims to have an understanding of natural language, to name a few examples.
Perhaps what we really need are dumb computers that do what only machines can do rather than trying to program them to duplicate human thought processes.
Eliminating the human-like element from search
This is not just a question of semantics, whether you call a computer intelligent or not, calling a computer intelligent represents an attitude that leads researchers in the wrong direction.
I came to this rather startling conclusion after talking to Yegor Kuznetsov, director and analyst at Brainware, a company that offers a software product with a unique, unintelligent way to search called Globalbrain.
Bear with me as I explain how dumb Globalbrain is -- and therefore why it's so good at what it does. For the record, Brainware is the search engine, and Globalbrain Suite comprises the applications.
Globalbrain search is used to either find documents that are similar to documents you already know exist, to find documents on a particular subject area, or to find relationships between documents that you might not have known shared similar information, such as a coded message used by a bank to approve subprime loans.
It does this by searching for trigrams rather than complete words. Take the word "Brainware." The trigrams are "bra," "rai," "ain," "inw," and so on. Brainware will search a document for these trigrams. If there is a match, the trigram is assigned a 1; no match, zero. As documents share trigrams, they are lined up by relevance.