Progress toward Cyberimmortality
ing, the onboard computer vision system detected that the
spacecraft was moving to one side more rapidly than desired,
so the control system immediately compensated. Because
there was no human being on board, and the speed-of-light
limitation prevented information and commands from going
to and from Earth in time, autonomous vision was crucial.
But the robot vision system was not capable of recognizing
objects, merely measuring the speed that objects and textures
were moving across the field of view. Computer vision is pro-
gressing rapidly, but it has a long way to go before it matches
the capabilities of a sparrow, let alone a human being.
Similarly, the computer techniques called natural language
processing (NLP) are progressing rapidly.  Imperfect but
serviceable speech recognition programs now operate many
companies telephone information and reservation systems,
and the quality of this technology improves constantly.
Perhaps the greatest controversy in NLP right now is how
much can be accomplished by brute-force statistical sys-
tems without incorporating the results of linguistics research
about the structure of language and the meaning of words.
For example, a speech recognition system may consist of a set
of mathematical models of phonemes the individual sounds
that comprise speech when strung together and a statisti-
cal model of the probability that various words would appear
together in a sentence, based on analysis of a vast corpus of
written language using techniques such as Hidden Markov
Models (HMM). Some researchers are beginning to add lin-
guistic rules, word definitions, and information from other
modes of communication such as facial expressions. But NLP
is not yet a fully intelligent system that could take over a
persons speaking and listening functions, let alone thought