Computing at Brighton

University of Brighton computing blog

Dr Khuong Nguyen

Can machines think?

In 1997, Deep Blue, made by IBM, became the very first machine to beat a human world champion in Chess. The machine weighed 1.4 tons, and employed specific hardware. This is a primitive example of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machines that perform human-like tasks such as playing Chess. Ever since, AI has progressed rapidly thanks to the advances in both software (i.e. more efficient algorithms) and hardware (i.e. faster and smaller chip).

Dr. Khuong An Nguyen, lecturer in Computer Science here at Brighton, has spent the last decade creating a variety of intelligent devices, such as a mind reading box (which is secretly powered by a hidden computer the size of a coin), a robot that plays a perfect game of Connect 4 (which was awarded the 1st prize in the London Cool Computing Competition 2009), and a Rock Paper Scissors robot that always wins by anticipating the human’s next move, as demonstrated in the below video.

Khuong recently built this robot to illustrate the observation that computers have become small enough to be woven into every fabric of life without us necessarily knowing they are there. In this case the smartphone was hidden, and then revealed in the video (at 1:25 minutes). It also demonstrates that computers have got so fast that, combining with advanced AI models, they are able to perform human-like tasks in real-time with almost perfect results. In this case, the smartphone was able to correctly recognise the shape of the human hand in less than 100 ms.

Beside making machines, Khuong has employed AI on diverse projects ranging from inventing magical effects for magicians on America’s Got Talent to his specialist research area in navigation and tracking including contact tracing and healthcare monitoring.

“With just a bit of imagination, AI will enable our students to create intelligent machines that may change people’s life one day“, said Khuong.

Students on our Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence BSc (Hons), Computer Science BSc (Hons), Computer Science with Cyber Security BSc (Hons) and Software Engineering BSc (Hons) are introduced to the principles and techniques of Artificial Intelligence, and gain an understanding of the application of these techniques in solving real world problems.

You can see more of Khuong’s projects on his page at :

Stephanie Thomson • November 3, 2020

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