by software artist Scott Draves. You may also follow me on google+ or twitter, buy art, or join me on facebook.

November 26, 2006

Can a machine be made to be supercritical?

From Computing Machinery and Intelligence by A. M. Turing, which addresses the question "Can a machine do anything new?" Written in 1950, four years before he was driven to suicide by the attempt to "cure" his homosexuality with hormone "treatments".
Let us return for a moment to Lady Lovelace's objection, which stated that the machine can only do what we tell it to do. One could say that a man can "inject" an idea into the machine, and that it will respond to a certain extent and then drop into quiescence, like a piano string struck by a hammer. Another simile would be an atomic pile of less than critical size: an injected idea is to correspond to a neutron entering the pile from without. Each such neutron will cause a certain disturbance which eventually dies away. If, however, the size of the pile is sufficiently increased, tire disturbance caused by such an incoming neutron will very likely go on and on increasing until the whole pile is destroyed. Is there a corresponding phenomenon for minds, and is there one for machines? There does seem to be one for the human mind. The majority of them seem to be "subcritical," i.e., to correspond in this analogy to piles of subcritical size. An idea presented to such a mind will on average give rise to less than one idea in reply. A smallish proportion are supercritical. An idea presented to such a mind that may give rise to a whole "theory" consisting of secondary, tertiary and more remote ideas. Animals minds seem to be very definitely subcritical. Adhering to this analogy we ask, "Can a machine be made to be supercritical?"
thanks watson Posted by spot at November 26, 2006 04:29 AM
hey scott, been following your stuff for a while. I've got some ideas about a video for a new album I'm releasing. If you've got a moment... drop me an email. I've got a couple of sheep related questions for you. music is on my website as well as the very exciting myspace. best, curt perkins curt Posted by: curt perkins at December 1, 2006 04:07 PM
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