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CACM Reports: Moving Beyond the Turing Test in Artificial Intelligence

December Issue Reports on Alan Turing up Close and Personal; Challenges Facing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS); IT Innovation Models for Emerging Markets; and Improving Streaming Video

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORK – November 28, 2012 – Two fundamental changes have occurred in recent years that make it useful to bid farewell to the Turing Test as a benchmark for machine intelligence, argues Robert French of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). In the December cover story of Communications of the ACM (note: this link will be live by December 1), he points to the availability of vast quantities of data, and the increased speed and power of machines for analyzing that data as factors responsible for pushing the Turing Test aside. The future of artificial intelligence, he predicts, lies not in attempts to simulate human cognition but in designing computers capable of developing their own abilities to understand the world, and interacting with these machines in a meaningful way. Also in this issue, ACM President Vint Cerf revisits the potential for scientific approaches to computer science. Citing discussions with computing legends Alan Kay, Edward Feigenbaum, Leonard Kleinrock, and Judea Pearl, Cerf concludes that our ability to understand and predict software behavior may lie in the invention of better high-level programming languages.

Communications, the flagship publication of ACM, offers readers access to this generation's most significant leaders and innovators in computing and information technology, and is available online in digital format.

Other Communications highlights:

  • William Newman remembers Alan Turing in a unique, first-hand account of their experiences in Manchester, UK in the late 1940s.  Newman’s father Max hired Turing to explore avenues for artificial intelligence research, and the young computer scientist became a frequent visitor to the Newman household, often arriving on his bicycle.
  • Technology writer Paul Hyman details the challenges facing educators participating in MOOCs—massive open online courses—which are transforming education at a meteoric rate. He tempers the current enthusiasm for this "disruptive" education with a discussion of business models, student evaluations, and certifications that need to be addressed before this approach can be sustained.
  • In light of competition in information technology (IT) among affluent markets in North America and Europe, Richard Heeks of the University of Manchester, UK outlines six emerging IT innovation models that are helping to close the design-reality gap in emerging growth markets at the bottom of the pyramid. Not only can these models lift millions out of poverty, they may also enable traditional IT multinationals, universities, and innovators to compete with firms in China and India.
  • Kode Vicious (AKA George Neville-Neil) addresses curious readers who want to know whether more code means fewer bugs.  He concludes that the bytes you save today may bite you tomorrow.
  • Researchers from Qatar University and Google's YouTube investigated the case for buffers in video streaming and interactive virtual environments. Aiman Erbad and Charles "Buck" Krasic report on the their development of an enhanced transport called Paceline to bring the performance and availability of streaming video and other time-sensitive media in line with that of traditional Web content.
  • Technology writer Leah Hoffman talks to Sanjeev Arora, recipient of the 2011 ACM Infosys Foundation Award about proof, intractability, and finding the best way to approximate problems. The Princeton University professor discusses the implications of his work for finance, which was motivated by financial derivatives and there role in the financial crash of 2008.
  • Blog @CACM blogger Mark Guzdial writes about the need for programming languages to support multimedia at all levels. Judy Robertson shares insights on 12-year-old students' lack of understanding about computer science.

For more information on Communications of the ACM, click on

About ACM
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.