After college I started to work and took some evening classes at the university in maths. I had a shift job and couldn’t sleep during day time. I was a sleep deprived zombie. To do math you actually have to think and to think you need to sleep, so I turned to something simpler computer science. After some boring classes about Hollerith code, speed of drum memories etc. we were given a short introduction to Basic and access to computer terminals. The first exercise we were to do, ring the bell of the terminal make it play ‘twinkle little star’. I decided to something else, make a program that could play the card game ‘blackjack’. I quit the computer science program and developed the blackjack program and become a programmer. The program became quite good at playing blackjack, but I never gave it credit for being intelligent.
If you read Alan Turing writings from the early 50ties, you will notice he was almost obsessed with computer based artificial intelligence. He even devised a computer ‘intelligence test’, if a human communicating with a computer (programme) cannot decide if it is a computer or another human he/she communicates with, then that computer (programme) holds true intelligence. To my knowledge no computer have been capable of that yet. Defeating humans in chess is kids play compared with converse as a human. There are ambitious attempts to create humanoids, like IPsoft’s self learning Amelia, that one day maybe chitchat like humans. During the mid 80ties I developed a program which scanned logs in a IBM mainframe and was able to interact with the operator console, it saved possible ‘action items’ in a database, which then could be associated with automatic operator interventions, this semi self learning pattern I used in some applications, a typical case; validation of transactions, instead of develop a framework of rules, I intercepted all transactions, a human had to approve a transaction as valid, then all intercepted transactions of that type were approved. This ‘validation pattern’ can produce very flexible transaction systems, but also very complex programs behind, e.g. how to handle transactions no longer valid. It is much simpler to validate transactions against a coded set of rules. And that is what ERP systems on the market do, and they are picky, transactions must follow the rules 100% and the same thing goes for master data, e.g. if parts are not defined correctly, anything can happen when you run an MRP process, there is no fine tuned black box of logic that thinks ‘X must be a purchased part even though it is defined as manufactured.
Turing and many other great minds have speculated what happens if and when computers become smarter than humans? Today the break even moment when computers become smarter than man, the singularity, is supposed to be here around 2040. The scenarios vary, them being our obedient servers or we are merging together into a new species or the smarter computers take over and annihilate man. One question that arises in my mind is it possible to be smarter than man? To me it seems we can figure out anything, it takes time but together humans seems to be able to be able to figure out anything that follows the laws of logic. How can you be smarter than that? Faster than us yes, but smarter? It will not take long before computers and robots will be better in warfare than us. Inventions come first to warefare, we humans seems to be very imaginative and creative when it comes to war, it’s probably hard wired into our genes. But still warfare is just a more advanced chess play, it is a long way from launching a missile to understand quantum mechanics. ”I think I can safely say nobody understands quantum mechanics”, but one day we will, if it’s logical we will, we actually have come a long way on that particular quest.
If I recall this right Turing did not think computer intellect must mimic the intellect of man. I try to imagine how another type of intellect looks like, a superior intellect that makes us look like a schimpanse not able to figure out to put two sticks together to get the banana, but I can’t. Man has the ultimate intellect. I think it’s very hard to (dis)prove this statement. Maybe time will tell. We invented the modern computer plus sixty years before now and we have speculated in computer based intelligence ever since, but we have not yet produced real intelligence. During the 50ties the computer guys thought they were close to achieve intelligence, they only needed a bit faster computers with larger memories. Today we know more, it is more than better hardware we need to create truly intelligent computers.
We will be able to mimic human intelligence and intellect within computers of that I’m certain, but will that intellect be superior to our? I doubt.If there are other logical types of intellect that are superior to our’s, we will figure out how to construct them. Are those intellects still superior to our intellect when we have done so? I doubt.