Monday, March 24, 2008
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
Another way to ask this question is: do robots, or computers for that matter, think about things in human ways - or strictly in ones and zeros? Surely no one would consider this question when the first rudimentary computers were introduced to the world. It's time to consider this question again, as computers can now beat humans in chess and are predicted to make themselves smarter than humans engineer them within the next 25 years.
The question is so beautifully explored in 1982's "Blade Runner" by Ridley Scott. In the movie, we are introduced to slave labor robots called Replicants (same as androids, cylons, terminators, skin jobs ... or whatever you want to call them). The Replicants are modern-day Pinoccio's that strive for one thing: to live and be human. It's as if Scott is telling us these robots value life more than us humans, wake up and smell the sushi noodles!
If you haven't discovered, re-discovered, or re-re-discovered Blade Runner, go out and buy the latest remastered version on Blue Ray or standard DVD. It's worth a second, third or fourth look. The vision of the future is so stunning - and science fiction writers and movie makers tend to be very accurate predictors of the future.
It makes me wonder if 100 years from now robots will be asking themselves "Do humans think in binary code?"
It's too bad I won't live that long ... but then again, who does?