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Our Race with Machines

By Steve Jones,

The Terminator and Matrix movies showcase a world where our computing machines have taken over the world to the detriment of humanity. These are worlds were the machines are superior to humans in many ways. It's a view that scares many people and has them concerned about the future as we find machines doing more and more work for us humans.

Whether you think we'll reach a point where machines are sentient or not, we do know that for single tasks, or a limited domain of tasks, machines can excel at some tasks. We've seen tremendous improvements in any number of fields where computer technology combined with machinery has greatly improved the way in which a business can function. These improvements have sometimes come at the cost of jobs, which can be a problem in some cases as humans must adapt to the changing ways that organizations function.

However the news isn't all bad for human workers. I ran across a very interesting TED talk about machines and how we might compete or work with them. It's from Erik Brynjolfsson and discusses some of the advancements, including the Deep Blue and Watson projects from IBM. While these projects have sometimes proved they can beat individual humans, groups of both humans and machines have proven to be even more capable of solving problems.

I don't know how the world will change, especially our jobs, but as I've watched technology be introduced, grow, and dominate business in the world, I've also noticed that there are more and more opportunities for those of us willing to work hard, learn, and adapt.

Steve Jones


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