Archive for the ‘a billion years ago’ Category

From protoplasmic soup to humans … from today’s machines to _____ in 500 years?

October 11, 2007

It seems to me that the word “machine” is getting to be a bit out of date. For centuries, words like “mechanical” made us think of simple devices like pulleys, levers, locomotives, and typewriters. The word “computerlike” inherited a similar sense of pettiness, of doing dull arithmetic by little steps. But we ought to recognize that we’re still in an early era of machines, with virtually no idea of what they may become. What if some visitor from Mars had come a billion years ago to judge the fate of earthly life from watching clumps of cells that hadn’t even learned to crawl? In the same way, we cannot grasp the range of what machines may do in the future from seeing what’s on view right now.

The Society of Mind by Marvin Minsky