A timely reality check
Ms. Koller is part of a revival of interest in artificial intelligence. After three decades of disappointments, artificial intelligence researchers are making progress. Recent developments made possible spam filters, Microsoft’s new ClearFlow traffic maps and the driverless robotic cars that Stanford teams have built for competitions sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Since arriving at Stanford as a professor in 1995, Ms. Koller has led a group of researchers who have reinvented the discipline of artificial intelligence. Pioneered during the 1960s, the field was originally dominated by efforts to build reasoning systems from logic and rules. Judea Pearl, a computer scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, had a decade earlier advanced statistical techniques that relied on repeated measurements of real-world phenomena.
Called the Bayesian approach, it centers on a formula for updating the probabilities of events based on repeated observations.
The ironic part, of course: AI only "failed" the last time around because of the lofty expectations espoused by some of its fans; it was primarily a hype:reality index and timing disconnect.