Monday, August 29, 2005

Innovation ≠ improvement

BBC reports on animatronic squirrels that will supposedly be an improvement over ringing cell phones. Myself, I fail to see how seeing the hamster dance a dozen times a day rather than hearing a ring tone is a quality of life improvement. Take this, for example:
[F]uture technology needs to "have a deeper understanding of how humans like to interact, what humans want, and eventually what humanity stands for," he said.

"This includes our immediate context, our thinking and our goals, but also our morals and ethics."

. . .

But there are still technologies, he argues, which just do not need to be improved, such as the lift or elevator.

"Although we have had speech recognition for some time now, elevators still have push buttons. It just doesn't make any sense to introduce a more complex interface when what we have is already completely appropriate."

. . .

"For some tasks, though, pressing a button to initiate a certain procedure is better than getting involved in a philosophical discussion with a wise-ass elevator about who is most important in the lift and needs to get where first."
I fear to think, really. Here's the thing--given the state of the nation, the results of the last presidential election, the popularity of talk radio and reality TV and so on, how much can we really expect from artificial intelligence. I'd be satisfied with some real intelligence, myself. If we can teach machines to understand what humanity is and how to make an ethical decision, I vote we turn over the running of the country to them. They'd be way ahead of our current leaders.

No comments: