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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, May 4

Ex Machina & Artificial Intelligence

The movie, Ex Machina, had a simple plot: A young billionaire genius, Nathan (Oscar Isaac), spends a fortune to build a hideaway in a remote region, the only way in or out by helicopter. He’d made his billions on the Internet, and was now working on creating humanoid robots (but only females). A young programmer, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), working for his company, has won a contest, the prize being a week spent with the billionaire in his hideaway, participating in a Turing Test of Artificial Intelligence, specifically in the person of Ava (Alicia Vikander), a beautiful robot.
Caleb is to see if Ava is capable of more than factual intelligence, capable of human emotions. Ava and Caleb interact under the watchful eye (and omnipresent cameras) of Nathan. That’s the plot setup and I’ll leave it at that, no spoilers here. But the whole idea of artificial intelligence is intriguing and has been dealt with in science fiction from the very beginning of the genre, most notably in Isaac Asimov’s I Robot. We also saw it in Her, the Spike Jonze film starring Joaquin Phoenix who fell in love with his cell phone operating system named Samantha (Scarlett Johannson). Today, however, we’re actually on the brink of creating robots and artificial intelligence that in the near future will take over most of our tasks: cars that drive themselves, planes that fly themselves, houses that clean themselves and cook our meals, machines that operate on us and take care of all our medical needs, assembly lines that automatically create other machines to take care of all our basic needs. I just read that Gartner, an information technology research firm, predicts that by 2025 AI and robots will take over a third of current jobs, one-third by 2025 with the likelihood of two-thirds and three-thirds in the not too distant future.
Does that mean that mankind may in fact get to that Utopia envisioned by Arthur C. Clarke in his novel Childhood’s End? A time when all of man’s needs will be met by robotics and no one will have to work to survive, but will be able to engage in whatever activities they enjoy? I hope so. But back to Ex Machina and its considerations of how far artificial intelligence might go. Would it be possible to create machines that not only know and use all of man’s knowledge but could also be programmed to feel as humans feel? To appreciate music and beauty, to know love and hate, joy and regret, shame and triumph, sympathy, empathy, pleasure, even sexual pleasure? Could we give a machine a sense of humor? Mark Twain sardonically said, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” Could a robot blush? Would a robot need to blush? Fear seems to be the only feeling we wouldn’t need to program into an android. What would a machine fear? Death or injury? No, that’s strictly a human feeling. But even death might one day be defeated when we could store a person’s memories and experiences on a hard drive, to which later thoughts and experiences could be added endlessly, living in an artificial body and switching to another artificial body when the first one wears out. A robotic immortality. Science and technology are expanding exponentially and the future may be closer than we think.
Oh, yes, and by the way, go see Ex Machina. It will lead you down the same introspective paths to the future that I found.

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