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Artificial Intelligence, considered: Talking with John Markoff about Machines of Loving Grace


Literary podcaster Rick Kleffer writes, “I must admit that it was too much fun to sit down with John Markoff and talk (MP3) about his book Machines of Loving Grace. Long ago, I booted up a creaking, mothballed version of one of the first Xerox minicomputers equipped with a mouse to extract legacy software for E-mu. Fifteen years later I was at the first Singularity Summit; the book was a trip down many revisions of memory road.”

John Markoff’s ‘Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robot’ is a fascinating, character-driven vision of how the recent past created the present and is shaping the near future. The strong and easily understood conflict at the heart of this work gives readers an easy means of grasping the increasingly complicated reality around us. If we do not understand this history, the chances are that we will not have the opportunity to be doomed to repeat it.

Our technological ecology began in two computer labs in Stanford in the early sixties. In one lab, John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial intelligence” with the intention of creating a robot that could think like, move like and replace a human in ten years. On the opposite side of the campus, Douglas Englebart wanted to make it easier for scholars to collaborate using an increasingly vast amount of information. He called it IA, Intelligence Augmentation as a direct response to AI. Thus were born two very different design philosophies that still drive the shape of our technology today – and will continue to do so in the future.

Markoff explores the nascent world of Silicon Valley just as the tech bubble grows to bursting. We meet Sebastian Thrun, in charge of the driverless car for Google, Hans Moravec and Rodney Brooks. We meet Tom Gruber, the co-creator of Siri who started out in AI but gravitated towards IA. We learn that the Singularity, generally about ten to twenty years in the future, has now been moved out to 2045. With regards to foresight, Markoff quotes Paul Saffo, who suggests, “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.”


Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots
[John Markoff/Ecco]

John Markoff Welcomes ‘Machines of Loving Grace’ : AI Versus IA [Rick Kleffer/Rainbow Light]


Categorised as: interesting

Posted by: Wayet1954

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