Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

14-1: The Ultimate Computer

On Tuesday, our group discussed Alan Turing, without whom the digital world would be very different. We all generally agreed that artificial intelligence, if it ever reached human potential, would be frightening. But why? I suppose it all has to deal with how we define intelligence, and, even more, how we define being human. If intelligence means having all the answers, then maybe a computer could be as intelligent as humans—or even more so. However, many of us believe that intelligence encompasses much more than information. Human intelligence is ever changing, a series of action and reaction and thought and feeling. People who don't understand the nature of intelligence probably wouldn't understand the nature of humanity, either—namely, that it is transient, yet it is also a continuum. What we think in the present is subtly defined by what we have thought in the past. History, as we know, transcends its own time. But what we remember isn't always accurate, and, as such, it differs from raw information. What survives requires constant interaction.

Does the Turing Test, then, really measure intelligence? Maybe, more than anything, it measures capacity. And if a computer's capacity could really transcend time as to, say, simulate immortality, would it really be any use to us, as humans, who live in passing?

Maybe computers will never really line up with the human mind. But that doesn't mean that they have not had a significant impact on our lives. I think we can all attest to the thousands of ways that technology has changed us. It has helped inspire and expound and share our ideas. But it cannot seem to conjure up ideas itself—not yet, at least. It just provides a new way to interact with the world; it has even created its own digital world, without which I'm sure many of us would be lost.

And, anyway, hasn't a supercomputer already given us the answer to the ultimate question—to life, the universe, and everything? 42.

DQ: What do you think the future has in store for artificial intelligence? And will it ultimately help or harm us?


  1. I feel that we, as humans, will keep attempting to make 'smarter' and 'better' technology, until we have created something we are either very proud of (Ironman) or something we regret fully (monster). In the end, it's odd to consider that out of all the living species in the world, non have yet to stand up to or against our minds and level of intelligence, but instead, we are aiming to create something that can. Its just odd to me. :)

  2. Ian Mallari9:17 AM CDT

    Our discussion reminded me of the movie (the name escapes me) with Robin Williams, where we is a robot trying to become human and eventually die. He does not like living forever... This just shows how we will never be satisfied, even if we can transcend our human state into robotic. Some will use the technology at hand, giving them the upper hand, while others will deny it. It's only a matter of time before we are faced with this difficult decision.
    Would you choose to 'live forever' through a robot if the chance was offered? Would you fancy the notion of living forever and having the mind capacity of a computer? Food for thought.

  3. The problem of computers being unable to come up with their own ideas seems to be an impassible roadblock. In fact it just seems weird to think about a computer literally coming up with it's own ideas. For their entire history computers have been strictly input/output machines that only respond according to whatever process the programmer has implemented. There's an area of computer science research that is trying to get around this issue by building a different kind of computer, instead of building circuits on a chip, they are building networks like a brain. See this article on how Neural Nets work:
    I just read a couple months ago in Scientific American about a team at MIT that has successfully built a virtual cortex column and gotten it to respond to stimuli in the exact same way that a biological cortex column does. Now they are working on building thousands and connecting them together. Could this be the way to clear that roadblock?

  4. So out group knows how I feel about technology, but for everyone else, I do not like it. I get way too frustrated by anything with more than three buttons. I grew up on a farm, and didnt have a computer until high school. I never had a reason too and it made my life a lot easier i think. I know that computers cannot ever be what we are. I know there's so much about technology that is advancing but there would always be something artificial about artificial intelligence. Computers aren't designed to make mistakes or have their own ideas or to have relationships and that will always be the missing. There are some aspects of technology we already regret as a society such as our dependence on it, and I think at some point people will be more regretful for trying to turn technology into something it should not attempt to imitate.

  5. Technology will never have free will to do whatever it wants. It may have simulations of acts of free will but never a thought that it didn't know suddenly there like an idea or invention or an act of kindness due to the lack of emotion or empathy one. But making the computer do what it does was a work of pure genius. The world will forever be greatful of figuring out this piece of technological art.