“Designing artificial entities perfectly groomed to meet our emotional needs has an obvious appeal, like creating the exact right person for a job from thin air. But it’s also not hard to imagine the problems that might arise in a world where we’re constantly dealing with robots calibrated to treat us, on an interpersonal level, exactly the way we want. We might start to prefer the company of robots to that of other, less perfectly optimized humans. We might react against them, hungry for some of the normal friction of human relations. As Lanier worried, we might start to see the lines blur, and become convinced that machines—which in some ways are vastly inferior to us, and in other ways vastly superior—are actually our equals.”
“The biggest exception will be jobs that depend upon empathy as a core capacity — schoolteacher, personal service worker, nurse. These jobs are often those traditionally performed by women. One of the bigger social questions of the mid-late 2020s will be the role of men in this world.” — Jamais Cascio, technology writer and futurist
“Vannevar Bush, the engineer who designed the world’s most powerful analog computer, envisioned the development of a new kind of computing machine he called Memex. For many computer and information scientists, Bush’s Memex has been the prototype for a machine to help people think. This volume, which the editors have divided into sections on the creation, extension, and legacy of the Memex, combines seven essays by Bush with eleven others by others that set his ideas within a variety of contexts. The essays by Bush range chronologically from the early “The Inscrutable Thirties” (1933), “Memorandum Regarding Memex” (1941), and “As We May Think” (1945), to “Memex II” (1959), “Science Pauses” (1967), “Memex Revisited” (1967), and a passage from “Of Inventions and Inventors” (1970). Bush’s essays are surrounded by four chapters that place his changing plans for the Memex within his career and within information technology before digital computing. The contributors include Larry Owens, Colin Burke, Douglas C. Engelbart, Theodor H. Nelson, Linda C. Smith, Norman Meyrowitz, Tim Oren, Gregory Crane, and Randall H. Trigg.”
“Will we understand how such intelligent networks work? Perhaps the networks will be opaque to us, with weights and biases we don’t understand, because they’ve been learned automatically. In the early days of AI research people hoped that the effort to build an AI would also help us understand the principles behind intelligence and, maybe, the functioning of the human brain. But perhaps the outcome will be that we end up understanding neither the brain nor how artificial intelligence works!”
The fact that Babbage’s Analytical Engine was to be entirely mechanical will help us to rid ourselves of a superstition. Importance is often attached to the fact that modern digital computers are electrical, and that the nervous system also is electrical. Since Babbage’s machine was not electrical, and since all digital computers are in a sense equivalent, we see that this use of electricity cannot be of theoretical importance. Of course electricity usually comes in where fast signalling is concerned, so that it is not surprising that we find it in both these connections. In the nervous system chemical phenomena are at least as important as electrical. In certain computers the storage system is mainly acoustic. The feature of using electricity is thus seen to be only a very superficial similarity. If we wish to find such similarities we should took rather for mathematical analogies of function.