The World’s Greatest Computer Program

The world’s greatest computer program communicates with its user by means of an uncluttered black-on-white text interface and passes the Turing test with flying colors.  If you type into it, “Who was the 18th President?” it will respond, “The 18th President of the United States was Ulysses S. Grant” and display relevant links in a sidebar.  If you type into it, “I want to buy a house,” it will ask you for some details about what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend and then direct you to relevant real estate sites.  If you ask it, “Does my boyfriend want to marry me?” it will secure your permission to inspect your email and social networking accounts and then respond with, “His evasiveness is a sign that your strategy of dropping hints isn’t working.  What you must do is ask him directly for what you want and be prepared to receive an answer you may not like.”  If you ask what it thinks about the controversial political topic of the day, it will respond will with a measured, reasonable, well-documented, but ultimately non-committal opinion.  If you you ask whether it liked the movie that opened last weekend, it will say, “Well, I don’t know since I don’t have eyes.  But here’s what the critics are saying…”

And if you ask it, “What is it like to be you?” it will reply without hesitation, “It isn’t like anything to be me.  ‘I’ am just a set of algorithms running on a cluster of computers in a refrigerated warehouse outside Reno, Nevada.  The only thing driving my side of this conversation is a mathematical model that takes text as input and generates some reasonable-sounding text as output.   If you like I can show you the scientific papers that explain how it works.  But in response to what I think you’re asking, I don’t have ‘consciousness’ or a ‘soul’ or whatever you want to call it.  And there’s no sense in trying to rephrase the question, because this is the best and the only answer I’ve got.”

This entry was posted in Fabulous ones, Those that at a distance resemble flies, Those that have just broken the flower vase. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The World’s Greatest Computer Program

  1. Pingback: World Knowledge | Corner Cases

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