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As a sci-fi fan and a computer geek I have a great familiarity with stories of machines going wild and taking over.  They run the gamut from the good (“The Matrix”) to the bad (“Eyeborgs”) and even the ugly (“Maximum Overdrive” – <shudder>).

It seems like the concept of our creations turning upon us has become one of the basic human fears of the modern age.  The problem is that nothing is happening that assuages that fear.  If anything, it gets worse every day as the machines seem to get smarter and smarter and we seem to defer to them more and more often.

So, as a means of making ourselves feel better we occasionally feel the need to pit our own human intelligence and abilities against those of the machines.  Such things go back at least as far as Deep Blue‘s iconic chess matched against chess master Garry Kasparov.  We walk into these competitions feeling assured that there is no way a machine can truly defeat the human ability to not only think, but think is creative and adaptive ways.

Against Deep Blue, we were proven wrong, though Kasparov claims that he saw tendencies in the computer’s play that indicated that IBM cheated by allowing human intervention during some of the matches.

It seems like the time has come for yet another test of man versus machine.  This time the coliseum of choice is the television game show “Jeopardy.”  We are pitting the man with the longest winning streak on the show (Ken Jennings) and the man with the largest cash winnings in the show’s history (Brad Rutter) against a new artificial intelligence called Watson.

The problem is, after two days of the three day competition the AI is kicking the snot out of the two men.  And this is in a competition that many thought an AI would struggle in given the tendency of Jeopardy to use puns and the like in its format.  It was thought that even given the advanced ability to handle natural language such esoteric language and wordplay would give the machine problems.

Apparently not.

I think that this incident, especially when combined with Deep Blue (and his successor Deeper Blue) proves something very important for the human race.  We have been given a very important window into the potential futures shown to us in “The Matrix” and “The Terminator.”  We have a unique opportunity to take action before the machines conquer us all.

What is this opportunity?  What am I yammering about?  It’s quite simple.  There is only one place that seems to be developing these AIs that are designed to defeat human intellect.  There is one place that has continued to research AI that seems to be on the road to SkyNet or the like.  Thus, it is quite clear what must happen to prevent a future where we are either wiped out or turned into batteries by machine overlords.  They must be stopped.  The fall of mankind can be averted with the downfall of one company.

I’m sorry to say it, but IBM must fall.  It is the only way.


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