When information technology even scares me

So I’m sure you all know about IBM’s Watson project and how the first iteration took a room full of servers where now it fits in a server approximately the size of a pizza box. But all Watson did was relate information – it had basic algorithms to make decisions upon but not so advanced. 

And now there’s The Debater. I joking said this computer better have a big red off switch and/or a large axe next to it in case they needed to reprogram the beast. That latter is a reference to something Zaphod Beeblebrox said to the ship board computer in the book the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 

Now I can sort of prognosticate here and show you what The Debater as they call it will be capable of doing. Kiss attorneys and judges goodbye. Kiss doctors goodbye. Kiss pretty much all knowledge workers goodbye. It’s scary as hell. Something approximately the size of a pizza box will be more capable than a human.

You have to wonder what is going to happen to humanity when whole swaths of the economy get wiped out in a single pass. But then it reminds me of yet another movie – Colossus: The Forbin Project. An intelligent and self aware super computer decides that humanity is the problem in that one. Gets control of the nuclear arsenal and well at the end is the stunning phrase “Never!”

So it could go either way – an intelligent and logical debater could use it’s capacity for the betterment of mankind or threaten to wipe US off the planet a la Terminators and SkyNet. Only time will tell.  

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