After the turn of the century, computer users will have to think twice before swearing at their machines if the predictions of a London professor come true.
Artificial intelligence expert professor Igor Aleksander of Imperial College, is confident that within two decades, computers will possess a consciousness of their own.
Aleksander is developing an emotional robot that is powered by a software program called Magnus. The program, which only has a fraction of the amount of neurones found in the brain, is already able to make some arbitrary decisions, such as where it has come from and where it would like to go.
Although no where near as advanced as Douglas Adams' depressed robot Marvin the Paranoid Android from the sci-fi hit ?Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy?, Magnus could be the first step towards emotional robots.
By 2004, conscious computers, that can interact using language and respond to vision, will become commonplace in our homes, according to Aleksander. The wired community can expect the next breed of emotional PCs to tackle problems aloud, agree or disagree with them with retorts such as: ?I see what you mean, but I think we should do X,Y or Z,? he said.
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