Turing, Touring, Tomato, Tomahto, let’s call the whole thing off…

Continuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH COURSE (and/or COLLISION COURSE)

Some thoughts and responses to our January 30th SNEAK PEEK of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL from our GUEST BLOGGER MATTHEW “DJ REZ” RESNICK

For those of you that didn’t catch our sneak peek – BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL tells the curious tale of Charles and his new quantum computer that seems to have mysteriously conjured up a literal door in the center of the lab – a door that just might lead to another dimension – where Charles’s dead brother may be alive and well. And desperately trying to get out of this alternate reality.

wargames2

Rez says:

Can computers become sentient?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the concept in popular culture (DO YOU WANT TO PLAY GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR? I’m sorry Dave, but I can’t do that…), but there are real tests and arguments that have happened and continue to occur in computing.

There’s a test called a Turing test, named for one of the pioneers in computer science. The idea is, can I distinguish whether or not this is a person or a computer. Text only, you understand, so no being fooled by a really good voice synth. There have been some grand attempts, but they’ve been failures. Failures, not of imagination, but born of limitations. My brain has no such limitations, except the ones I put on it.

I can start talking about lime flavored, Shoggoth-shaped jelly babies, and you can probably follow most of that. And I can write it.

Can a computer?

That’s the million, nay, trillion dollar question. And that’s one of the underlying questions we’re dealing with here. Is this computer thinking? Is it playing? What does it want? Does it want anything? Where does that door lead? Is it a real place? Or are our protagonists passed out due to acute absinthe intake? It’s all text, you understand.

This could be one big turing test. Someone could be testing from somewhere else to see if there’s sentient life here.

Big questions, all.

Matthew Resnick is a contributing blogger for SATURDAYS IN THE DARK. His radio program can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9pm at THOR RADIO.COM.

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~ by saturdaysinthedark on February 17, 2010.

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