If I Had A Robot, Would I Hammer in the Morning?

10 02 2011

You can tell the robot is happy from its glowing eyes and smile of satisfaction.

Giving this its own post: a tool is itself morally neutral until used by a human, be it for good or ill. That goes for hammers and guns, oil rigs and printing presses, yes, and technology — so far including robots. Ethical import is of, by and for us as people, not our tools.

The difference with robots is that we’re not confident we haven’t outsmarted ourselves and created a tool that perhaps one day will out-human us.

In the race to build computers that can think like humans, the proving ground is the Turing Test—an annual battle between the world’s most advanced artificial-intelligence programs and ordinary people. The objective? To find out whether a computer can act “more human” than a person.

In his own quest to beat the machines, the author discovers that the march of technology isn’t just changing how we live, it’s raising new questions about what it means to be human.

It’s a good story, full of quotes like “Just be yourself . . .seems to me like a somewhat naive overconfidence in human instincts” and “It’s an odd twist: Read the rest of this entry »





New Power-of-Story Acronym Thinking Parents Had Better Think About

10 02 2011

While over at Killing the Buddha, this caught my eye and then made me catch my breath.

As a schoolchild I originated a jolly, homegrown, completely benevolent version of “do it for the story” — first to get myself through dreaded necessities like family reunions or hospital stays, and then because it had helped me endure and often, even frame an entertaining bright side, I shared my approach with our kids. Now I just feel dirty . . . Read the rest of this entry »