I propose to consider the question, “Can human beings think?”
You may recognize the above as a provocative twist of the question posed by Alan Turing in his landmark paper, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, published in 1950 while he worked at the University of Manchester.
“Can machines think?” Turing asked.
The surprising short answer, almost 70 years later, is, maybe. Within the last three months, for example, I’ve had several satisfying conversations with AI algorithms concerning the purchase of bargain burial plots, my credit score and winning the International Lottery. One of those, who self-identified as Betty, promised when asked, “Of course I’m a real person,” but then disconnected, artificially offended, I suppose, when caught in a lie, unable to compute the square root of 16.
Machine intelligence marches on. IBM contends that, by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Meanwhile, sadly, human intelligence becomes more suspect. Beyond 2020, how many of our species will remain who understand, for example, that the real King James never played basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers? How many will walk the earth who have never heard of Alan Turing? The University of Manchester? 1950?
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