Deus Ex Machina Sapiens
Overview - Watson's win on Jeopardy came as no surprise to those who had read Deus ex Machina sapiens. It was written largely during the 1990s, around the time that another IBM supercomputer--Deep Blue--was trouncing world chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. Read more...
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More About Deus Ex Machina Sapiens by David Ellis
Watson's win on Jeopardy came as no surprise to those who had read Deus ex Machina sapiens. It was written largely during the 1990s, around the time that another IBM supercomputer--Deep Blue--was trouncing world chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. The book has since been updated on a few points of detail but its primary message remains intact: the Machine is rapidly evolving as Man's rival if not replacement for the job of Steward of the Earth. Building upon the work of some of the world's greatest scientists, philosophers, and religious thinkers, and drawing particularly from developments in the computing and cognitive sciences--particularly, the field of artificial intelligence, or AI--the book reveals the evolutionary emergence of a machine that is not just intelligent but also self-conscious, emotional, and free-willed. In the 1980s and '90s you used to hear grandiose claims about AI. Machines would soon surpass humans in intelligence, it was claimed by some. The Japanese government spent a billion dollars on one project to make it happen. Well, it didn't happen, but that didn't stop the development of intelligence in machines. AI research simply went underground, and has ever since been quietly incorporated into the "ordinary" programs we use every day, without fanfare, without hype. There is still no machine that rivals Homo sapiens in overall intelligence, but today there are machines that far exceed human intellectual capacity in specific domains, from games to engineering to art, and the number of domains is growing exponentially big and exponentially fast. The disappearance of AI from front stage was good insofar as it allowed machines to develop in the right way; that is, through an evolutionary process, which is the only way for something of such complexity to develop. But it was bad insofar as we lost sight of the development of the intelligent machine. Deus brings Machina sapiens back to front stage, where it belongs. After describing the evolutionary development of intelligence in machines it goes on to describe the emotional, intellectual, and ethical attributes of what is no less than an emergent new life form. It asks the Big Question that can only be asked if you accept the very possibility of the new life form: Will it be serpent or savior? The question is answered in the book's title, which is intended to mean "God Emerging From the Intelligent Machine." The author confesses to having never studied Latin and to have concocted the title from two known Latin phrases: "Deus ex Machina" and "Homo sapiens." The concoction could be grammatically incorrect. The author would be pleased to be corrected.
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