Advances in computer processing power open the way for wider use of so-called artificial intelligence, at the same time that the self-serve aspect of online processes has increased the need for systems that "think."

Designing a computer that "thinks" like a person-intuitively and with the ability to learn from experience-was the Holy Grail of early programmers. In fact, there has been a fair amount of progress on that front, with one well-publicized milestone being the success by programmers at IBM in writing a chess program "smart" enough to defeat a grand master.

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