RE: [BITS] Skewering AI for Fun and Profit -- 230 Final Exam

Joe Barrera (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 14:15:16 -0800

> Looking at these two articles, "Meet Shaky, the first electronic
> person" (Nov 1970) and "The 21st Century Artilect: Moral Dilemmas
> Concerning the Ultra Intelligent Machine" (May 1989), one's first
> reaction is gleeful mockery of such plainly extremist predictions.

Gleeful mockery! My favorite game! Can I play too?

To wit: where can I buy one of those "fifth-generation computers"? I'm
actually not quite clear on whether they are obsolete or whether they
haven't been made yet. :-) Let's see, Japan was supposed to have made them
by 1993, according to _The Fifth Generation_ by Feigenbaum and McCorduck
<> ).
Any of you world travelers seen them for sale in Japan?

Sure is amazing to read TFG and to remember just how much of an underdog
America felt itself to be just fifteen years ago. The general tone of TFG
is, "the Japanese are going to kick our butts in computers just like they
have in cars and steel and everything else, and we're too stupid to do
anything about it." It's amazing how things have changed regarding the
relative strengths of the American and Japanese economies, almost as amazing
as the end of the cold war. It was pretty frustrating growing up in the 70's
and early 80's as an American, listening to how lazy and unproductive and
stupid Americans were compared to the rest of the world. Perhaps this has
something to do with the Microsoft unwillingness to pull our punches, to
assume that success is self-perpetuating. And if people now complain that
Microsoft, or America, is too dominant, well, time will take care of that,
no need to rush our inevitable downfall. "This too shall fall" as they had
on all those signs at IBM. (Or wait, maybe that was "Think".)

- Joe