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Innovation

Thinking -- Or Feeling -- Like A Computer

So an unknown billionaire named Jeffrey E. Epstein has spent millions trying to develop a thinking and feeling computer.
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Written by Tom Steinert-Threlkeld on

So an unknown billionaire named Jeffrey E. Epstein has spent millions trying to develop a thinking and feeling computer. But winds up in jail instead.

This sounds eerily like a wish to build a HAL 9000 computer that was the central character of Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction novel and Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” And we all know how that ended up. An astronaut shuts down HAL, before HAL kills the crew.

A quick sweep of the World Wide Web does not find any computer construction project that claims to be trying to introduce the ability for a computer to “feel” emotions. There ihas been a fair amount of debate as to whether or not a computer can, for instance, feel pain.

Thinking Machines, of course, was a supercomputer company that was founded by MIT alumnus Danny Hillis that lasted about a dozen years before its hardware business was picked up by Sun Microsystems. But it didn’t claim to make machines that felt anything.

The folks over at the University of Bristol and University of Essex in the United Kingdom meanwhile have been trying to introduce a sense of consciousness into robots that have been dubbed Cronos and Simnos.

MIT, for its part, over the years, has worked on a similar attempt to replicate human thinking and acting with a project called Cog. Here’s a video updated 161 days ago on it.

But the original production was in 1998 and Rodney A. Brooks, director of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, even then was dubious whether a humanoid robot that was “as capable as a human being” could be built in his lifetime.

If you believe the curator who put together “The Art of the Thinking and Feeling Human” at the Ateneo Art Gallery in Manila, “feeling” constitutes what is unique to the human being.

Just as well. You don’t want to see, some time in the future, the thinking computer – or humanoid robot – that gets arrested for solicitation.

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