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Public Forum: Do smart machines need man?

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Machine wins Jeopardy. Time for humanity to throw in the towel?

I just happened to be watching "The Matrix" not long after IBM's Watson had beaten two Jeopardy champions. I really hadn't thought too much about it as custom machines can do amazing things.

But then I heard a line that brought several things I had read lately into startling context. The scene is where Morpheus is being held by Agent Smith, who is trying to break into Morpheus's mind.

Smith is describing man's development of artificial intelligence and gets to a point where machines started thinking for man "As soon as we started thinking for you it really became our civilization." Watson doesn't really think but it has achieved a significant milestone in understanding context and being able to draw conclusions. This is an important component of thinking.

Recently there have been other articles about printing food, http://bbc.in/hnUYJj, or printing a violin which plays very well, http://econ.st/hruMiX. This is remarkable in itself but now consider the combination of thinking machines and the capability to make things.

What is the role of man in such an environment? To dig raw materials? No, machines can do that. To load printers or perform repairs? No, machines can do that. To think of the new iPad application? No, why would machines need an iPad?

What are the implications when thinking machines have disagreements? Do they just send hate mail, post tweets, and editorialize on their Facebook page or do they send the machines that can create and control to reprogram the offending machine and disrupt its supply network.

What does winning look like? Oh, and this still didn't answer the question of what use is man? Just something to think about, if a machine hasn't already done so.

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