Now, computer scientist Hava Siegelmann of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an expert in neural networks, has taken Turing’s work to its next logical step.
She is translating her 1993 discovery of what she has dubbed "Super-Turing" computation into an adaptable computational system that learns and evolves, using input from the environment in a way much more like our brains do than classic Turing-type computers. She and her post-doctoral research colleague Jeremie Cabessa report on the advance in the current issue of Neural Computation.
"This model is inspired by the brain," she says.
"It is a mathematical formulation of the brain’s neural networks with their adaptive abilities." The authors show that when the model is installed in an environment offering constant sensory stimuli like the real world, and when all stimulus-response pairs are considered over the machine’s lifetime, the Super Turing model yields an exponentially greater repertoire of behaviors than the classical computer or Turing model. They demonstrate that the Super-Turing model is superior for human-like tasks and learning.
"Each time a Super-Turing machine gets input it literally becomes a different machine," Siegelmann says.
"You don’t want this for your PC. They are fine and fast calculators and we need them to do that.
But if you want a robot to accompany a blind person to the grocery store, you’d like one that can navigate in a dynamic environment.
If you want a machine to interact successfully with a human partner, you’d like one that can adapt to idiosyncratic speech, recognize facial patterns and allow interactions between partners to evolve just like we do. That’s what this model can offer."