Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beautiful Sunday

Mid-February, the temperatures are on the rise and there is a noticeable increase in daylight. Tomorrow's minor holiday forced me to get out of the house and shop. That's always good--the getting out part, at least.

Valentine's Day. We women are supposed to turn wicked if the attention we want wanes on this day, but honestly, I don't remember ever feeling especially wonderful or woeful about Valentine's Day. Now that I am paired off, it is a nice excuse to do something cheerful and different in the middle of February, and I certainly enjoy that. However, it's also a very commercialized day that can be a source of stress and hurt feelings for some. From obscure origins, Valentine's Day has become such a retail holiday that anything from candy hearts to diamonds go on sale for the big day. It's grown--exponentially.

Exponentially? Perhaps that's an exaggeration. You'll have to excuse me, if I have that word stuck in my brain. Ekim and I have just read Lev Grossman's article in Time Magazine, 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal, which addresses the fact that computers have become exponentially smarter and better, and that at some not-so-far-off date, we will have computers that are smarter than all the humans on earth combined.

Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn't even take breaks to play Farmville.

So, what then? What will life be like? When I was a kid, I marveled at how Granny remembered some of the first cars, yet regularly flew across the country to see us. And she was zenfully calm about this, too. I remember thinking that there weren't that many changes left. Ha! That's funny, that I thought so small. Actually, it would be very hard for me to go back to school now, with all the changes there have been, and all the distractions added. It seems so strange, that there was no internet, all the time I was growing up, and music was just beginning to go digital. Back then, I read an article in Omni magazine about the coming of email--or whatever they called it back then--and thinking that this was going to be way cool. When I was in school, computer science majors pulled all-nighters in computer labs and there were huge mainframes.

How quaint. Email is becoming passe and cell phones deliver the internet in the palm of one's hand. It's incredible. And NO, we're not done with the changes, we're never, ever done with the changes. That was hard to fathom as a kid, but now it's hard to imagine anything else. Someday, when someone says, "what will they think up next?" the antecedent to that pronoun will be a machine.

Starting on Valentine's Day, a computer named Watson will be playing Jeopardy! And no, the questions will not be addressed to Watson with a keyboard, but in natural language. This will be fascinating.

Have a most engaging day, in your particular idiom.


Darmit said...

We'll know when we're usurped by computers when a computer can play Farmville while social networking and working incredible quickly. . .but will they ever be able to enjoy an IPA?!

Lara said...
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Quack Birder said...

Sunshine and constant change... it's all good. :-)

Doug said...

I agree, Quack.

Happy welcome to the future day. I was just thinking about getting lost. My phone not only can tell me how to get from anywhere to anywhere but what the traffic will be like. Half the adventures of my youth were obtained by moving in no particular direction and finding strange things. I need to go hiking in strange mountains if I want to get lost now.

Bone said...

I was thinking about music the other day, how my parents had records and 8-tracks, I had mostly cassettes and later CDs, and now I wonder how much longer retail music stores will be around.

Same thing with movie rental places. And what about libraries?

Good post.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Doug said...

Oooooooooh! That Watson!