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Professors Attempt to Build a Thinking Machine

 Emmett Redd and Steven Younger

Are we ready for a robot with brain-like intelligence? Two Missouri State faculty researchers, Drs. Emmett Redd and Steven Younger, have been working on an advanced machine with a knack for common sense and the ability to learn well beyond the parameters of its programming. 

Their research is based out of the Center for Applied Sciences and Engineering located inside the Jordan Valley Innovation Center in IDEA Commons.

Alan Turing’s principles have inspired scientists since the 1930s, and his life even inspired Hollywood recently with the film “The Imitation Game.” Most computers these days are even built based on Turing’s concepts, noted Redd.

Redd and Younger are collaborating with Dr. Hava Siegelmann from University of Massachusetts at Amherst who has developed theories of some machines that could be more powerful than Turing machines…that might be actually build-able unlike many which have been conceptualized in the past. Redd explains the physics of the machine.

Though Siegelmann began the research in the 90s, this team contacted her about 5-6 years ago. They had been working on optical computing using analog systems – which she believes to be more powerful than digital – and they received approximately $450,000 from the National Science Foundation for their project to experiment and test her theory. Younger elaborates.

Redd explains that since they are working with analog systems, the components are up to thousands of times larger than that of a digital version. Essentially, though, they are attempting to build a computer with a functioning brain.

Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work in the office of strategic communication. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.
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