Translated from the Japanese version

 

Fascinated by Artificial Intelligence  

Toshinori Munakata

(Artificial Intelligence Researcher)

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the news again lately, with IBM’s “Watson” supercomputer vanquishing its human foes on Jeopardy, the American TV game show, in February this year.

 

Toshinori Munakata (79), a professor at Cleveland State University in the United States, has dedicated his career to advancing AI science, the dream of which is to imbue machines with common sense, the hallmark of human intelligence. “Replacing, and eventually even surpassing, human intelligence by the machine is a very fascinating idea,” says Munakata. “It’s why many people, including myself, were attracted to AI. However, this dream is not being realized easily.”

 

Since coming to the US in 1967, Munakata’s research has spanned many of AI’s most important realms: neural networks, fuzzy logic, evolutionary computing, chaotic systems and more. But his greatest contributions have been in communicating these very different paradigms to the world through his guest-edited journal editions and book.  “AI has undergone a massive paradigm shift during the course of Dr. Munakata's career,” said Michael Mozer, a University of Colorado computer science professor. “He promoted and advanced these developments through his comprehensive textbook and through his editorial contributions to leading journals.”

 

His research focus now is non-silicon-based computing. One project could eventually enable immediate blood-test results based on tiny samples. Still, his dream of a computer capable of common sense may still be a century away. “Once this is solved, then it’s quite a different world we’ll have,” he says.

 

— Todd Neff (science writer)