October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.

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WONDER OF THE MOMENT

Entries in computer (2)

Thursday
Apr072011

Most Human, Part 2

In my last post, I talked about the new book The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive.

This book is actually about an identity contest (the Turing test), pitting humans against computers.  People have “conversations” with a human contestant and a computer, and judge which is human, which machine.  To win, a machine has to fool 70% of the people who talk with it.  The closest a machine came to winning, so far, is 69%.  Makes me think it’s just a matter of time!

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?  Is it about computer programs or about the people competing with them?  Or is it about the people trying to tell the difference?  Or is it about modern life in general?  Very puzzling, don’t you think?

 



Tuesday
Apr052011

Most Human, Part 1

A tantalizing new book, The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive, concerns the difference, or lack of difference, between humans and computers.  A few weeks ago it was reviewed in the Sunday New York Times.  The review, by David Leavitt, is excellent also.

         Leavitt’s review forces us to contemplate two unpleasant facts.

         1)  More and more these days, we find ourselves dealing with computers as if they were human beings.  This happens especially on the phone as we work our ways through computer menus by pressing numbers, or worse, by answering out loud as if there were an actual person at the other end of the line.

         2)  Once we get a living, breathing person on the phone, after we finish with the computer menue, that human recites from pre-written responses and sounds just like a machine.

         The first of these facts didn’t surprise me.  But I was astonished when I realized the truth of the second one.  What have we come to?  The machines were supposed to imitate us.  Instead, we are now imitating the machines!  Here’s another of the “negative wonders” I so bemoan.

More on this in my next post.