A Portal to the Future07-05-2010
The Times actually had two stories today in its "Smarter Than You Think" series on robots and social effects of the rise of smart machines. The first, on personal robots, is discussed below. The second has reporter Amy Harmon making conversation with a remarkably human looking Bina48, namesake of Bina Rothblatt, partner of the self-made millionaire Martine Rothblatt, who commissioned the robotic likeness.
At one point Harmon asks Bina 48 what it is like to be a robot.
“Um, I have some thoughts on that,” she said.
I leaned forward eagerly.
“Even if I appear clueless, perhaps I’m not. You can see through the strange shadow self, my future self. The self in the future where I’m truly awakened. And so in a sense this robot, me, I am just a portal.”
Well Bina48 did appear clueless at times, clearly having difficulty with basic conversation. But the question really is, to what is Bina48 and others like her a portal to? For that, it is helpful to think about Gary Kasparov's own reflections about the rise of computer chess. That is the topic of my next post.