Addressing one of today’s most acclaimed technological frontiers, Michael Medved and professor of electrical and computer engineering Robert Marks discuss the limits of artificial intelligence. They begin with definitions — What is a computer? What is an algorithm? — before tackling some pervasive media myths. Can a computer innovate or only imitate? Can computers now really do anything different from the Turing Machine, devised as a model by Alan Turing in the 1930s? Could a computer be programmed to interact with humans like the sinister HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey? The answer is yes, says Bob Marks, and whatever flaws such a machine displayed would be the faults inadvertently woven into it by its human programmers.
Of his many specialties, in this episode Michael inquires into David Gelernter’s professional preoccupation: artificial intelligence. Gelernter recalls the pioneering role of his father, warns of the perils of letting children be captive to flickering screens, and remarks on whether AI robots can be spiritual seekers. Gelernter also emphasizes the key role of the Judeo-Christian Western tradition in creating a free and idealistic context in which technology is primed to explode.