Sunday, October 19, 2008

More on the Rise of the Machines

The letters section of Sunday's NY Times follows up on Richard Dooling's Op-Ed piece on The Rise of the Machines. The first letter states that "we can require that they all be designed with benign motives." But does this mean that the motives of the designers should be benign, or that the machines themselves should be designed to have benign motives? (I think the writer means the latter, but I'm not sure.)

The last letter opines that the machines "are not superintelligent. Even on Wall Street, they merely count very fast at the behest of their human masters." But this is a false dichotomy. Machines may not be superintelligent, but to describe what they do as mere counting at the behest of their masters is to downplay the range of autonomous decisions that computers are already engaged in making.

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