Monday, November 10, 2008

i have seen the future baby, and it's murder

Man sits down in front of a computer and types a question: "When will you be able to do everything I can do?"

Computer whirrs and clicks (it's MY computer) and types: "That reminds me of a story..."

All by way of introducing my musings on artificial intelligence. When computers can do everything humans can, it's going to be a nightmare. Mark my words.

Say you get a parking ticket (I don't have a car, so the chances of my getting a parking ticket are slim; in fact, my getting a parking ticket would probably be the start of a low-rent, modern-day version of 'The Trial,' but that's why I said "YOU" get a parking ticket, to keep this in the realm of the possible).

Anyway, you get a parking ticket, and when you go to pay it, the clerk at the DMV (you were doing your funky freestyle parking in Canada, did I mention that?) calls up your file, which the computer obligingly presents but, because it now thinks like a human, it realizes it has access to all kinds of other information about you and it can't resist taking a peek, and having peeked, it can't resist the urge to share, so it adds an aside about the state of your liver or your credit rating or the Ann Rice boxed set you bought from Amazon last month. All prefaced, of course, with "I hate to say it, but..." or "I'm not judging, but...," or "You know what they say - today parking tickets, tomorrow unpremeditated homicide..."

And that's assuming computers are sharing the FACTS about you. A computer that truly thought like a human being would eventually get too lazy to bother checking its actual files, and just take a stab at it - or better still, MAKE SOMETHING UP. (I will admit right now, I am imagining a computer that thinks like ME, and I just went to the optician for new glasses and took a stab at my dioptics, got them wrong, and must now choose between calling the store and confessing my stupidity or getting a pair of glasses that would have given my 13-year-old self the gift of 20/20 vision).

WHY would I want my computer to think like ME? Instead of being arranged alphabetically in neat folders and subfolders on my hard drive, my files would suddenly be strewn willy-nilly all over my desktop, where there would (somehow) also be dirty coffee cups and remotes for DVD players that no longer function.

No, I like my computers the way I like my presidents - black.

And smarter than me.


pgl said...

"You know what they say - today parking tickets, tomorrow unpremeditated homicide..."

Those accusations are totally false, nothing was ever proven and quite frankly I resent these sort of vicious rumours being spread about an upstanding citizen of fine moral character who was cleared in court of law after a full investigation.

Also I'm not sure unpremeditated is a real word.

PS: Is there such a thing as postmeditated? Or unpostmeditated?

maire said...

see, inventing words is something computers will also eventually start doing.

the T9 system on my mobile phone does already - it insists i have a friend named "crevu."