As of yesterday, computers have thrown the proverbial robo-gauntlet. The score is now humans: 1, robots: 2.
Reading the Signs
The end of IBM super-quiz computer Watson’s three day tenure on Jeopardy is the latest in a growing list of robo-human throwdowns.
Ever since the days of Deep Blue, computers have been cross-checking humanity for smarty-pants bragging rights. Back then, the monolithic IBM chess bot went toe-to-toe with Russian reigning world chess champ Garry Kasparov.
In a six game series that included three draws, Deep Blue beat Kasparov two to one. Kasparov – who had defeated Deep Blue a year previously in 1996 – accused IBM of cheating.
Watson, IBM’s newest robo-pro, succeeded in defeating Jeopary’s own human encyclopedia-eclectica Ken Jennings in a three game run – also scoring two to one. Jennings, previously hailed as a trivia super-brain, showed no resistance to the impending implications, writing a harrowingly prophetic deference on his Jeopardy tele-screen :
So why 2045?
Time magazine’s recent coverage of the computer’s rise to the top gives a generous deadline for the end of humanity’s dibs on superiority. The article concentrates on the prospect of human immortality :
There is, as always, a catch, denoted by an accompanying asterisk : If you believe humans and machine will become one. The question is, what good is immortality if computers have the bitch-smacking upper hand?
The Singularity, or the moment computers can function, reason and act in the way that humans do, is becoming more and more of a reality. Once that happens, will computers decide to stay human after all? Don’t bet on it.
Humanity will always at least have one first and maybe last point in this human vs. droid death-match – we’re the ones who created computers. Will it have to come down to us being the ones responsible for destroying computers as well?
Ever since computers whirred to being, they’ve been getting doubly as good and half as cheap every year. That’s driven an exponential explosion in innovation that has brought humanity closer to a chip-laden crossroads.
Do we reject the observations of the Terminator canon of movies and let go of the reigns? Hoping that robots will still value weekends, sex, and a couple of drinks?
Will the singularity bring about new kinds of hybrid liaisons between flesh and wire mesh? Imagine : robo-hoes in human-suits with 500 psi of grip and the ability to scan, drain and shred your credit and bank cards. The horror.
The future hangs in the balance, except there’ll be no John Conner to save us this time.
Innovation Meets Execution: The Death Penalty 2.0
RIP @NPR @PBS