Saturday, April 7, 2012

BBC Horizon The Hunt for AI - review

I watched the BBC's Horizon documentary The Hunt for AI last night and here is my review. I have to say that I wasn't really very impressed. Don't get me wrong I'm not being an AI snob -  "I work in AI and that was much too simplistic" kind of attitude. I just didn't think it really added anything to previous documentaries. Prof. Marcus Du Sautoy is a very engaging presenter and the doco touches all the main points: Alan Turing, the Chinese Room, embodied vs. disembodied intelligence, learning and creativity. But previous Horizon documentaries have already dealt with the same material, and done it better.
    Horizon aired a documentary on AI in 1987 called Thinking, which to my mind is better than the much newer Hunt for AI. In this old doco, they had Derek Jacobi as Alan Turing, from the play Breaking the Code, John Searle himself introduces the Chinese Room, Marvin Minsky counters and Herbert Dreyfus gets involved. Personally I think this new documentary's only advantage is that's it's contemporary and has robots in it.
   You can view episode 1 of 5 of Thinking on YouTube and The Hunt for AI on the BBC iPlayer  and decide for yourself.