Technology and Machines
Analysis Essay #4
Technology and Machines
In this paper I will (X) explain how machines such as Deep Blue have continued to develop over time (Y) by describing how technology and machines have evolved in relation to humans (Z) in order to demonstrate that non-biological, self-aware machines may become a problem in the future if they are not correctly handled. I will first explore how the chess match between Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue was a watershed moment in human history. Then I will discuss the changing relationship between humans and technology in the near and far future. Finally I will explain the necessary ethical standards of creators when they program non-biological, self-aware machines.
Machines vs. Humans
Up until the point when Gary Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue in 1997, a specialized computer designed by IBM, neither a human nor a machine had ever outsmarted him in a game of chess. The movie Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine classified this as a â€œwatershed momentâ€? in human history because the victory for Deep Blue was a turning point in the role that technology of computing power took versus human brainpower. Kasparov beat every computer that he had ever played before until his match with Deep Blue. In his interview in the movie he stated the computers that played chess were predictable, they played like computers were supposed to play. Kasparov felt that when playing the earlier computers if he changed his style it was almost if he could trick it. But when he was matched up with Deep Blue, it did not play like a computer was supposed to. The computer made moves that he thought only humans could make.
In the popular imagination, chess isn't like a spelling bee or Trivial Pursuit, a competition to see who can hold the most facts in memory and consult them quickly. Chess requires brilliant thinking, supposedly the one feat that would be forever beyond the reach of any computer (Dennett 1). However chess also requires other assets of the human mine that a computer does not contend with because it cannot be bored or embarrassed, or anxious about losing the respect of the other player, and these are aspects of life that human competitors always have to contend with in their games. Human players often try to intimidate or embarrass their human opponents, but against a computer they must play fair and square (Dennett 2). When humans were brought down to the same thinking level as machines by this match they began to question the real significance of this over-hyped chess match. It forced us to ponder just what, if anything, is uniquely human. Humans prefer to believe that something sets us apart from the machines we devise. Nobody knows enough about such characteristics to know if they are truly beyond machines in the long run, but it is nice to think that they are (Dennett 3). The match between Kasparov and Deep Blue didn't settle any great issue, but it certainly exposed the weakness in some widespread opinions. Many people still cling, to a brittle vision of our minds as mysterious immaterial souls, as the products of brains composed of wonder tissue engaged in irreducible noncomputational processes (Dennett 3). A moment such as this defeat, enabled humans to understand the significant tasks that could be assigned to computers and machines that could not be computed using human brainpower.
Human Relationships with Technology
With each passing year technology is accepting a greater role in the daily lives of human beings. Just about every daily task that a person does is either completed or assisted with the use of technological and machine innovations; coffee makers that know when to start making coffee, cars that can parallel park themselves, and mobile phones that double as cameras and music players. Into the future humans relationship with technology is only going to grow stronger as new innovations can do more and more for them. The experiences that seem natural to children today are radically unlike those of 200 years ago. The â€œnormalâ€? home in Western society has expanded to include indoor plumbing, central heating, hot running water, electric lighting, radio, refrigeration, television, and much more. The world that seems natural at our birth has been continually modified (Nye 222). The research and development of new technology makes the daily life of an average American easier and more efficient to the point that it is not recognizable compared to the past.
Humans are always fascinated with the new, hip idea or technology that is constantly being developed. They will love a new product until a new model or better concept comes along and then they will focus their attention on the current popular idea. This shows that the next great technology or innovation is merely a stepping stone to the next one, and the next one after that. An example of this is when Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997, by the next year there was and even more powerful computer, and the year after that, another more powerful computer, so the bar continues to be set higher and higher to keep up with changing technologies.
Humans are almost to the point at which they completely depend on technology to complete the most basic tasks for themselves and if these patterns continue, someday all daily tasks will be taken care of by machines and computers. Machines and computers will mow the grass, pick out our clothes for us to wear, do the household chores, and completely drive us to work, along with everything else that is currently done by humans. If the pace that humans are on right now continues, within the next few generations, humans will be completely reliable on technology to survive. If these technologies are made self-aware, who is to say that some day they will not try to control themselves and operate under their own power such as in the movies â€œTerminator and I-Robotâ€?? Arthur C. Clarke argued that human invention ultimately can only lead to our evolutionary replacement by intelligent machines: â€œThe tool we have invented is our successorâ€¦.The machine is going to take overâ€? (Nye 224).
Ethical Standards of Programming
Machines and computers have been developed to the point that they can think and act for themselves and also make logical decisions that may be unchangeable. This leaves us with a few questions; what goes into their decision process and do these self-aware machines have a conscience, or feelings, or moral values? A machine cannot feel emotions or know the difference between right and wrong, so it is up to the creator or programmer to program ethical standards into these machines. There should be a set policy that governs the ethical standards that are programmed into self-aware machines, as the creator himself may not be an ethical person and might want to utilize his machine or computer in an immoral fashion.
There are many standards that self-aware machines should contain such as not attempting any unlawful acts, not hurting anyone or any property, being honest, and following directions of whoever is in control of it. Self-aware machines can be programmed to do activities that break the law such as hacking into computer systems to steal information and money to benefit the creator or programmer. When it comes to the point that there are self-aware robots living amongst us, the possibility occurs that they may hurt, rob, and even murder human beings. The robots will be in control of whatever they do based on what they were programmed to do. This is why it is important for programmers and creators to be held responsible to a certain set of standards when setting up self-aware machines.
A system similar to how new products are tested and then released to the public could be set up to monitor newly constructed self-aware machines to verify that they are programmed correctly and to a specific set of standards. This would enable a checks and balances philosphy to enable that programmers are not providing unethical machines to the public for their own benefit. If a machine was found to be programmed against the ethical standards it would not be allowed in public and the programmer could be disciplined. A process such as this would make sure that self-aware machines benefit society in the future instead of creating any unwanted problems.
Self-aware machines will continue to develop at the pace they have since Deep Blue became the first machine to beat a human, Gary Kasparov in a game of chess. Technology is becoming a greater role in the lives of humans with every new innovation that makes life easier and more efficient. There are many problems that may arise in the future if these technological innovations are not monitored and correctly handled to protect humans. The sky is the limit when it comes to the relationship between humans and machines granted they can continue to develop and evolve together in order to achieve the possibility of one day completely living and working amongst each other.
Dennett, Daniel C. â€œHigher Games.â€? Technology Review Sept. 2007: 1-4.
Nye, David. Technology Matters: Questions to Live With. London: MIT Press, 2006.
Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine. Dir. Vikram Jayanti. Perf. Garry Kasparov and Marc Ghannoum. THINKFilm, 2003.