Thursday, March 6, 2008

Teaching the Machine: Part V

You've got to watch out for those instant teller machines... They may know a bit too much!

Did you ever stop to consider what the computers would know about our personal spending lives if they were to get their networked brains together? Our spending patterns, our passwords, our digital signatures are all known to the microchips in these vastly interconnected computers. Although I doubt the hardware would be at all interested in spending my money, maybe the Machine would like to arrange for the transfer of funds to cover that money I was promised from that African prince via email...

Rather, I think that the artificially intelligent Machine would have a greater sense of equity than that. I suspect that the Machine's desire for balance and harmony, in place of inequity and chaos, might actually allow the heart of the Machine to strive to correct the inherent imbalance seen in global markets. A networked machine would surely refuse to allow parts of itself to suffer malnourishment, be it technological, intellectual, or otherwise. Would such a machine be more humane than humans? Maybe we should be the first to consider allocating global resources more equitably?

While we don't know what will happen if/when the Machine begins to act on its own, there are two sides of the coin worth considering:

The Good News: the Machine will have been programmed by hundreds of millions of programmers including you and I;

The Bad News
: See above!

Photo Credit: Gerard Van der Leun