Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It Shall Come To Pass, Machines vs Humans

Last night Watson debuted on Jeopardy. For those of you that don't know, Watson is a computer from IBM. He* took seven years and thousands of man hours to create. He was created to be able to play Jeopardy. He can't see or hear, all his information is given to him electronically. See the videos below to learn more about him.

Intro on Watson for the nerdier people:

Intro on Watson for the common-folk:

My first reaction to Watson is, "holy #&@*!" That's a lot of computing power just to play Jeopardy. Makes you wonder how amazing the human brain is. Then I ponder a little more and wonder about how Watson works. Does Watson think? If Watson thinks, how close is he to being sentient? How close are humans to creating a sentient machine? The father of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes, proved his mind existed with the phrase "I think, therefore I am". **

So for the sake of not arguing, let's assume that machines will think like us and by Descartes' proof, they will become sentient. The next logical question is will machines, created to serve us, turn against us? We are far away from this scenario. But Watson is a checkpoint in human history that alerts us about the increasing probability of a war between humans and machines, regardless of how small the probability is.

Some advice to the future. If we don't want a world like in The Matrix or Terminator 2, don't create sentient machines that can create machines.

* I'm not being sexist. One, Watson is a male name. Two, Watson has a male voice. Three, traditionally the third person in English is in the masculine form. Four, Eve came from Adam's rib.
**For a deeper analysis of this "clicky" here.

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