Monday, July 14, 2008

Brave New World

While reading Mig's Daily Dirt, specifically the July 4 entry, my thoughts drifted back to a time when I was working at the Oxford bookstore and reading Computer Power and Human Reason, by Dr Joseph Weizenbaum. His conclusion, basically, was that we should take sledge hammers to every computer, for with them came an attendant loss of freedom...While in the mountains I found a book at the library, One Jump Ahead:: Computer Perfection at Checkers, by Jonathan Schaeffer. The print was small and the book long, so I ordered a copy and had it sent to me. The book concerns his struggle to develop the computer checkers program, Chinook, that has laid waste to human players of that game. You may recall the headlines about how checkers has now been solved. Mr Schaeffer is the human mind behind the headline. Mig reports that now Jonathan has turned his attention to poker. The thing that caught my attention is that the poker program is partly based on learning the style of the opponents based on previous play. Is that not what we humans call THINKING! We're doomed. DOOMED! As if that's not bad enough, Mig also reports, in his July 9 entry, that a machine has mastered air hockey! What's next? Sex with a machine? But wait...Didn't I read recently that old chess player and 'puter nerd, David Levy, to draw attention to his new book,Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, claims that it's only a matter of time...

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