Man vs Machine

On this day in 1996 Deep Blue, a computer developed by IBM, beat chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. Kasparov rebounded over the next five games, winning three and drawing two, to soundly beat the machine. Next week, 15 years after the chess match, Jeopardy will host a similar Man vs Machine face off on TV. Here is an excerpt from
a write-up in the Kansas City Star:
Two of “Jeopardy’s” biggest brainiacs — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — will compete in a three-day event Monday through Feb. 16 for a chance to win $1 million. But it’s the third contestant that makes this showdown different. They’ll be playing Watson, a super computer. That might not sound like a fair fight until you realize “Jeopardy” requires more than just knowledge. Often the answers are provided in the form of puns and other word games. Watson is programmed to understand the word play of human language.
I will be recording these Jeopardy episodes next week. I have always been intrigued by the man vs machine stuff - I loved the Terminator movies and even watched the short lived TV series. One of my favorite Star Trek characters was the android Data. It is probably the geek in me that wonders if man can program a computer to think like a man.

Of course the whole idea of a computer being sentient, or self-aware, is pretty ridiculous. The idea that humans are the sum total of their binary code is hilarious. Many of us admire the intellects of Einstein and Stephen Hawking. That said, I think that few of us would consider them truly human just because of their brain power.

Being human is so much more than our ability to play chess or answer questions, albeit in the form of a question, on a game show. Being human is more about feeling than thinking. It is more about loving and caring for each other. And, for me, being human is all about living from the most non-computerish part of me. How about you?


  1. I agree that our humanity is more than the "machine." There is a "ghost" in there as well. ;)

    But can we fully appreciate the intricate complexity and inter-relationship of mind and heart enough to fully segregate the two, or prefer one over the other?

    A balanced measure of both would reflect my "preference" best.

  2. I do agree with your last statement. I just broke down and got a DVR to try out for a couple of months. You can be sure I'll be taping those shows since I'll be out most of the evenings that it's on.

  3. Yes, I agree with your last statment. Haven't heard of this new game show...will look up the listings in my area...should be very interesting and entertaining.

  4. I've been looking forward to watching Jeopardy next week. It absolutely blows my mind that a computer like this exists...but how scary if because of this type of technology we interact with more and more computers and less and less people. It happens every time we make calls to certain companies and I always feel slightly akward giving my info to a machine that apparently understands what I am saying.

    I agree with what you said at the end of your post....a human being is about being human, and involves heart and soul.


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