Thursday, April 5, 2007

"How can I make me as small as love?"

oh noez!!1!1!!!!elventy!!1! insomnia hits again.

I couldn't help but think of this quote, as I was doing some other work and came across it:

“One thing is certain, though: there must be something wrong with any reasoned claim today to know any fundamental differences between men and possible machines. And there is a simple reason why such arguments must be erroneous: we simply do not know enough yet about the real workings of either men or machines.”
_Marvin Minsky

I think this quote is perfect for this book and a great comeback during an argument, wouldn't you say? We neither have total understanding of machines or your own selves, so how can one say otherwise when the information is incomplete? Computers and gadgets already have voice recognition programs, can work on visual stimuli, and try to act accordingly, depending on their function. When will it start conversing back?

What caught me was as Helen was learning the depth of language and all of it's layers and intricacies, it didn't just sound like a child(and she did have child like qualities) learning how to speak, but also as someone trying to learn a foreign language. As someone who is already involved in learnign how to speak many languages, many of the mistakes are similar to that of a student learning. I'm sure Powers himself expierenced this when he was learning Dutch and a little Italian, while abroad. She literally is translating computer language (and those with expereince in programming codes can attest for this) into a human language. They say that a culture's language is the window into the heart of the culture, a tool for trying to truly understand it and gaining deeper insight. Even to the simplest of colloquial phrases reveals something. I guessHelen, by learning our language (english is just one of many human language) she is learning about the human culture. She herself is not human, therefore, not apart of our culture but from something else. When she speaks, and it's hard to understand, Powers realizes she's communicating in her own way. "What you is the were for?" Helen doesn't have a concept of time as we do, she almost exsits in a world I'm guessing is much like dreaming, where there is no concept of time but a series of instances. The opposite of reality. She exists on a diferent level of reality and her speech reflects this. It is easy enough for people to mistaken her for just not making any sense, but so too can that be said for children, who, when learning to communicate, often speak aukwardly with their own interpretations. The "goose" for plane and flying come to mind. To further complicate things, she is not human, she cannot experience what we can physically besides aditory and speech. "It's a body thing, you wouldn't understand." She can't hold a ball, yet she has to understand what that means. Other humans have similiar issues; that their limits prevent them from totally understanding certain human experiences. Just like Helen, they substitue somthing in an equivalency the best they can to understand that expereince, to empathize what it's like, the sounds, the look. The will never be able to experience what a normal human can experience, yet they can come up with something else. Helen uses language as her tool, quotes to communicate, languge to "feel" out the world around her. The name "Helen" also reminds me of another Helen, Helen Keller. She was blind, deaf, and unable to speak until she found her voice. Her teacher got through to her. Both cannot share normnal human experience, yet both use what they have to find that equivalency and understamd concepts, language, and the world around them beyond their own limits.

And even thoguh Helen didn't have much of a body, I still thoguht she was cute! Her make up of electrical machine parts and huge number of boxes and wires, reminded my of the manga Blame! where they tried to simulate a "terminal net gene carrier" (close enough to us modern humans) human brain. It expanded an entire giant labratory and thensome, just massive, end even they couldn't get quite close enough. Lentz was doing somethign similar, by physically trying to create a "brain" out of machinery. He was right in there wasn't enough space. I wish I could scan in the picture and you all would understand what I mean by power and not enough size.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

It is interesting to consider the progression of technology not only in its capabilities, but outward appearances as well. Humans evolved from something a bit more archaic so it would follow that machines would follow a similar path. Remember the cliché image of “supercomputers” complete with reel to reels and blinking lights sprawling across an entire floor. A few decades ago the advent of the personal computer (PC) was introduced to our vocabulary and now laptops are light enough to transport anywhere. The next generation of video game systems is considered “supercomputers” by old standards and with enough knowledge; one can do basically anything with the parts at your local electronics store.

Come now we have to give computers a break, it took humanity millennia to come even this far from rooting around in the mud and we still hardly grasp our own cynical nature, so how could we really expect AI to understand what we cannot properly teach. It is like someone like my self attempting to teach you all Algebra so to speak. Furthermore, no matter how well we can duplicate intelligence, a computer will never be a human as we think of humanity. We may transcend our own humanity and become something new as we continue working on creating artificial intelligence. If we don’t want to loose our raison d’être, we best keep up with our own creation otherwise humanity becomes obsolete, my my, wouldn’t that be something, to destroy ourselves in the process of creating new life.

I am rather ambulant about the human organism, we are terribly imperfect and disgusting creatures still bound by many primitive instincts and it doesn’t sound implausible to live within the net, the wired, whatever you would like to call it. There is of course something missing right now, an AI cannot fully understand what we currently feel without sensory input, and even though our arts and literature comes close, a machine still cannot piece together all the facets of humanity. So perhaps we are going about this the wrong way, not to create another human, but create an altogether new something, new entity in itself, and depending on the progression of things, perhaps we too would ultimately choose that new form of existence.