A physicist called Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) writes this essay. He was born in New York and educated at Columbia University then later did his postdoctoral on space exploration and astronomy at Leiden University, the Princeton Institute of Advanced Study, and the University of California at Barkley (Jastrow 206). Jastrow has had numerous awards of excellence including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award. This essay by Jastrow first appeared on February 20, 1978, in Times Magazine with an interesting prediction of a scientist writing early in the digital era on artificial intelligence’s prospects in the twentieth century and beyond. After reading this essay, the reader can judge how Jastrow was close to achieving his dreams for artificial intelligence and with his predictions.
The early computer did not have much other than the remarkable memory and some good math skills but today’s best models can be wired up and learn by experience, ask relevant questions, follow an argument and write poetry and even music. These computer qualities make it imitate life-like and electronic monkey as they can also be programmed and hold a conversation with human collaborates such that they cannot know it is a machine speaking to them (Jastrow 207).
Imitation gets better as computers get more complex and in the end, the line between original and copy seems to become blurred. In two more generations of computer evolution, we will see a computer, as an emergent form of life. This seems ridiculous because computers do not have the emotions and drives of living organisms but computer brains can have the drives programmed in them when they are of importance.
Just like people, computers can work faster and better when motivated. Arthur Samuel discovered this by teaching two IBM computers how to play checkers. Although the computers learned slowly, they got their game polished by playing each other. In the will to win, Dr. Samuel programmed the computers to try harder and to think out more moves in advance when they were losing making the computers to learn quickly. Afterward, one of the computers won against Dr. Samuel and won against the champion who had not lost a single game in eight years against a human opponent (Jastrow 207).
Computers match people in some roles but they have outclassed them in cases where there is a crisis and fast decisions are required. The brain has evolved over 100,000 years ago when life tempo was much slower, therefore; if you throw many things to the brain at once, it will freeze up. This is because the brain has a defect of wiring that prevents it from simultaneously absorbing several streams of information and acting on them.
Humans are still in control but the computer capability is increasing are a very high rate compared to raw human intelligence which is changing slower. Computer power is growing at a very fast rate and since 1946; it has increased tenfold every eight years (Jastrow 207). Four generations of computer evolution with simple integrated circuits, vacuum tubes and transistors to today’s microchip inserts have followed each other in quick succession; the fifth generation will be on the market in the 1980s, built out of devices like Josephson junctions and bubble memories. When the sixth-generation appears in the 1990s, the reasoning power, and the compactness of intelligence built out of silicon will match that of the human brain (Jastrow 207).
When ultra-intelligent machines will be in partnership with the best minds we have in the daily problems in an unbeatable combination of human intuition and high reasoning power. John Kenny, the Dartmouth president and a pioneer in computer uses, see a symbiotic relationship between man and computer where each is dependent on one another survival. Man who will minister to its bodily needs like computer reproduction, spare parts, and electricity will care a computer, which is a new form of life that dedicated to pure thought. In return, the computer will cater to our social and economic wants (Jastrow 208).
Computer intelligence is growing very large quickly with no natural limit insight and this makes the partnership not to last long. Since human evolution is almost a finished chapter in life history, the human brain has not changed in the past 100,000 years at least in gross size. While there is an improvement in the brain organization during that period, the amount of information and wiring that can be crammed into the cranium of fixed size is limited. But this does not mean that intelligence evolution has ended on earth as we can expect that a new species can arise out of a man and surpass his deeds as he surpassed what his predecessors did (Jastrow 208).
The new kind of intelligent life is most likely to come from silicon. Most planets are not millions but billions of years older than the earth, therefore, the life they carry must have passed the life we are about to enter. This proves that human intelligence right now is not the standard form of intelligent life. Therefore, in years to come let us be neither disappointed nor surprised when there will be a new kind of intelligence, maybe, a form of life packed with silicon chips.
Jastrow, Robert. “Toward Intelligence beyond Man’s.” Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 12th ed. ED. Laurence Behrens and Leonard J. Rosen. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.