Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Man vs. Machine

     Intelligence (in teľ i jәns), n. Capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meaning, etc. Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary.
     According to the New York Post of March 29, 2011, “Man again proved no match for machine yesterday during a much-hyped "Jeopardy!" challenge - with Watson, IBM's latest and greatest in artificial intelligence, crushing its two human opponents.”
     For humans Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, Jeopardy! is a souped-up version of Trivial Pursuit, the popular game of the 1980s. The two humans did not lack the storehouse of trivia necessary to beat the machine; their nervous systems simply could not compete with the electronic speed of the computer.
     In the words of David G. Myers, Psychology 4th Edition.New York:Worth Publishers Inc,1995: 43: “Depending on the type of fiber, the neural impulse travels at speed ranging from a sluggish 2 miles per hour to, in some myelinated fibers, a breackneck 200 or more miles per hour. But even this top speed is 3 million times slower than the speed of electricity through a wire."
     Imagine a giant lying on the earth with his toe in the water at the South Pole, and his head at the North Pole. If a shark were to bite his toe at midnight on Saturday, the pain would not reach his brain until Tuesday afternoon. The return message would reach his toe on Friday morning. By that time the electric current would have gone around the earth 405 million times. Watson did indeed crush his human opponents in reaction time – not in intelligence.
     Alan Turing, the British code-breaker of WWII, said that an intelligent machine would give answers to questions that were indistinguishable from those of a human. With a few exceptions, Watson came pretty close.
     But Turing's definition missed one attribute humans have that computers are not close to acquiring: creativity. Watson could not design and build his successor.
     When an inventor or scientist has an idea for an advance in his particular field, he creates a physical construct in the form of a model, experiment, etc., which becomes available to the surrounding society. An idea for making stronger steel may make it possible to build higher buildings, or the discovery of a new tropical plant may provide a cure for a previously fatal disease. As new constructs proliferate throughout society, the society’s internal beliefs, customs, etc. gradually change, which leads to further external individual and group changes. Every new situation, whether a philosophy, an idea, a tool, a design, even a casual remark to a friend or the sight of a falling apple, is instantly available for the Spirit’s use in all categories.
     A Comprehensive Example – The Spirit Runs Through It.

The Spirit Runs Through It is available in paperback or on Kindle from Amazon.

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