Sunday, May 01, 2005

Weaaaak .... speeeeciessss ...

... I was in the movie theatre yesterday, watching the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Mos Def is a genius (pay attention to the scene in the Vogon Hold. The Hold, not the airlock).

Anyway, before the movie started, I got to see the trailer for Stealth. There's a part where one of the pilots (the white guy) goes "We have things that machine will never have, like Instincts, judgment ..." something to that effect.

I'd like to address this. In scifi, a lot of hullababoo is made about how human "instinct" is somehow superior to machine calculation and such. The name of a certain Penn & Teller tv show springs to mind.

Fact is, we were originally designed for a simpler milieu, one where you only needed to know a few things: "pointy bit goes in the animal" and "fire hot" for example. When a buffalo is charging you through a field, you don't count grass blades. You just don't have the bandwidth to spare. Not our fault.
Your brain filters out everything that isn't essential, all 70% of it.

Then that whole intelligence thing happened. Next thing we know, we're building castles and submarines and internets. Now, we live in a superhigh-content, non-physical environment. Now, everything is essential. But our brains are still filtering.

What then is instinct? Instinct consists of leftovers, the sensory dregs, the fraction that manages to get past limbic censors. Your senses catch a whole lot more than your brain can process, so "gut feelings" and "hunches" are the result. Your brain squeezing out dingleberries, to be blunt and ugly about it.

Would a computer have this problem? Absolutely not. A computer would not have a subconscious or an unconscious for that matter. Total self-perception, total self-prediction; a level of confidence unmatched by even the greatest human dictators. What we call instinct would for an AI-type mind simply be a subsection of a sensory grid. Your computer warrior would be able to count the grass, the hairs on the buffalo's hide, the immediate atmospheric conditions and still have enough time to go "Ole!" on the poor animal's posterior.

In short, Stealth is going to suck. And I'll see it anyway.

Explosions are cool.


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