Edge.org's annual question WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MACHINES THAT THINK? / by mirena

A beautiful symphony of thought is the Answers to Edge.org's Annual Question  -  WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MACHINES THAT THINK?  And my favorite excerpts.  

George Church Author, Regenesis; Professor, Harvard University; Director, Personal Genome Project

I am a machine that thinks, made of atoms—a perfect quantum simulation of a many-body problem—a 1029 body problem. I, robot, am dangerously capable of self-reprogramming and preventing others from cutting off my power supply. (this cracked me up - don't come near me when i  am hungry) We human machines extend our abilities via symbiosis with other machines—expanding our vision to span wavelengths beyond the mere few nanometers visible to our ancestors, out to the full electromagnetic range from picometer to megameter. We hurl 370 kg hunks of our hive past the sun at 252,792 km/hr. We extend our memory and math by a billion-fold with our silicon prostheses. Yet our bio-brains are a thousand-fold more energy efficient than our inorganic-brains at tasks where we have common ground (like facial recognition and language translation) and infinitely better for tasks of, as yet, unknown difficulty, like E. instein’s Annus Mirabilis papers, or out-of-the-box inventions impacting future centuries. As Moore’s Law heads from 20-nm transistor lithography down to 0.1 nm atomic precision and from 2D to 3D circuits, we may downplay reinventing and simulating our biomolecular-brains and switch to engineering them.


James J. O'Donnell Classical Scholar, University Professor, Georgetown University

3. Can artificial mechanisms be constructed to play the part in gathering information and making decisions that human beings now do? Sure, they already do. The ones that control the fuel injection on my car are a lot smarter than I am. I think I'd do a lousy job of that.