The study of intelligence and AI has cross-fertilized many fields, including robotics, computer engineering (expert systems, conceptualization of the semantic web), neurology1.9, psychology and even philosophy. Practical applications are OCR1.10, speech recognition, autonomous mobile robots, driverless vehicles, etc. Accuracy and reliability of the former recognition systems is often still low (an order of a magnitude below human performance for speech [Lip97]). The fact that the later vehicles are often rated based on the `mean time to intervention' shows that work needs to be done to make them truly autonomous and still able to deal with varying environments and incomplete information.
Through both highly theoretical (and often philosophical) and engineering work, we can gain insights into the very essence of ourselves and what yet to come. While this constitutes a very long journey, I'm personally eager to take part in it and to be fascinated and perhaps surprised by it, just like nature is inspirational and surprising. I have a fascination for understanding `the way things work' and, if possible, creating something new.
Erik de Bruijn