“We will soon create intelligences greater than our own. When this happens, human history will have reached a kind of singularity, an intellectual transition as impenetrable as the knotted space-time at the center of a black hole, and the world will pass far beyond our understanding.”
— Vernor Vinge
Jeopardy has never been so exciting. The world has watched rapt for the past two days as IBM super computer Watson has at first held its own and then gone on to defeat Jeopardy champions Brad Rutter ($10,400) and Ken Jennings ($4,800), raking in $35,734 by the end of night two yesterday. There’s even been light speculation as to whether its much ballyhooed false “Toronto” answer is some sort computer joke.
Our Taiwainese animator friends at NMA, proof that technological singularity is nigh in and of themselves, have made a video reminding us that this isn’t the first time robot intelligence has kicked human grey matter’s ass, depicting in full color CGI the defeat of Gary Kasparov to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997 as a terrifying game of life size chess.
The video then goes on to postulate all sorts of hypothetical game scenarios where computers would have unfair advantage: they could spray poison on competitors during a friendly game of Trivial Pursuit, function as their own auto-tune on American Idol or jump logs fearlessly on Survivor. It’s pretty scary when you think about it, 75% of the Jeopardy win can be attributed to the fact that the thing can simply push the button faster.
According to science fiction lore, one of the signs that the Singularity had already happened was that humans could no longer imagine the intentions or potential of artificial intelligence. If that Toronto mistake was indeed some kind of joke (a vague reference to Jeopardy host Alex Trebek’s Canadian hometown perhaps?) than we’re closer than we thought.