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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Remember this movie?



Remember this movie?  Well, of course you won't if you are a millennial. But otherwise, you'll smile at the recall. War Games was a box office success and nominated for three Academy Awards in 1983. Today, it would almost be considered a spoof because technology has so outstripped its premise.

Imagine, a computer terminal that looks like this and a government security password to WOPR (War Operations Planned Response), the world's most sophisticated computer that is responsible for our nuclear arsenal, as simple as the name of the developer's daughter, Raven?

Anyhow, this is the movie's synopsis:

High school student David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) unwittingly hacks into a military supercomputer while searching for new video games. After starting a game of Global Thermonuclear War, Lightman leads the supercomputer to activate the nation's nuclear arsenal in response to his simulated threat as the Soviet Union. Once the clueless hacker comes to his senses, Lightman, with help from his girlfriend (Ally Sheedy), must find a way to alert the authorities to stop the onset of World War III.

Hey, it's a fun movie, even if outdated. Here's the trailer for you nostalgia buffs.

But War Games is a good jumping off spot to highlight how computers, robots and algorithms have taken so much humanism away from us, or as the headline of the The Perfect Bet book review says, "Humanity Hasn't Got a Chance." Artificial Intelligence is winning.

In his book, Adam Kucharski talks about how science and math are taking human skill and luck out of gambling... and so much more. If a computer can spot in milliseconds a large Wall Street trade in process and shave or add even one penny to the price making someone quite a bit richer, then what chance does a mere human have. This didn't just happen, As early as the late 1970s, an ancient computer even had the game of roulette figured out... and the incredible technological evolution just kept rolling along.

"Statisticians are getting good at predicting sports scores and intelligent algorithms can beat human poker players," the author says. The machines have even even learned when and how to bluff. "Even lottery games have been picked off by brute force attacks buying up large combinations of numbers. Checkers and chess have long ago fallen to computers."

And so has Jeopardy. Remember IBM's Watson? The computer certainly came up with all of the factual answers in thousandths of a second then reacted to the buzzer before any of the human contestants even processed the question, let alone hit their buzzers.

"Smart machines might eventually get too smart, creating a future where "humans are unable to participate in real time, and instead, an ultra-fast ecology of robots rise up to take control."

"The line between luck and skill--and between gambling and investing--is rarely as clear as we think," Kucharski adds. "Now that the bots are combining mathematics, physics and psychology, let the games begin. Or should I say--with perfect bets and winning strategies played by superfast computer--the games are over."

But fear not, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will never, never replace reasoning and the human brain... the human brain... the human brain... the human brain... the huma...


A rabbi, an Arab, a robot, and a Catholic priest walk into a bar. Only the robot exits.

A robot walks into a pharmacy. The pharmacist asks him if he’d like anything. The robot replies, “A soul.”

How do you stop a robot from destroying you and the rest of civilization? You don’t.

“Waiter! Waiter! What’s this robot doing in my soup?” “It looks like he’s performing human tasks twice as well, because he knows no fear or pain.”

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