Turing Option is written by Harry Harrison who is also the author of Deathworld, Make Room! Make Room! (filmed as Soylent Green), the popular Stainless Steel Rat books, and many other famous works of SF. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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July 02, 2012
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Excerpt from The Turing Option by Harry Harrison
J. J. Beckworth, the Chairman of Megalobe Industries, was disturbed, though years of control prevented any outward display of his inner concern. He was not worried, not afraid; just disturbed. He turned about in his chair to look at the spectacular desert sunset. The red sky behind the San Ysidro mountain range to the west threw russet light upon the Santa Rosa Mountains that stretched along the northern horizon. The evening shadows of the ocotillo and cactus painted long lines on the gray sands of the desert before him. Normally the stark beauty of this soothed and relaxed him; not today. The gentle ping of the intercom cut through his thoughts.
"What is it?" he said. The machine recognized his voice and turned itself on. His secretary spoke.
"Dr. McCrory is here and would like to speak with you."
J. J. Beckworth hesitated, knowing what Bill McCrory wanted, and was tempted to keep him waiting. No, better to put him in the picture.
"Send him in."
The door hummed and McCrory entered, strode the length of the big room, soundlessly, his footsteps muffled by the deep-pile, pure wool Youghal carpet. He was a wiry,angular man, looking thin as a rail beside the stocky, solid form of the Chairman. He did not wear a jacket and his tie was loose around his neck; there was a good deal of informality at the upper levels of Megalobe. But he was wearing a vest, the pockets filled with the pens and pencils so essential for any engineer.
"Sorry to bother you, J.J." He twisted his fingers together nervously, not wanting to reprimand the Chairman of the company. "But the demonstration is ready."
"I know, Bill, and I'm sorry to keep you waiting. But something has come up and I can't get away for the moment."
"Any delay will cause difficulties with security."
"Of which I am well aware." J. J. Beckworth let none of his irritation show; he never did with those below him in the corporate pecking order. Perhaps McCrory did not realize that the Chairman had personally supervised the design and construction of all the security arrangements of this establishment. He smoothed his silk Sulka tie for a moment, his cold silence a reprimand in itself. "But we will just have to wait. There has been a sudden and exceedingly large spurt of buying on the New York exchange. Just before it closed."
"Our stock, sir?"
"Ours. Tokyo is still open, they have twenty-four-hour trading now, and the same thing seems to be happening there. It makes no financial sense at all. Five of the largest and most powerful electronic corporations in this country founded this company. They control Megalobe absolutely. By law a certain amount of stock must be traded, but there can be no possibility of a takeover bid."
"Then what could be happening?"
"I wish I knew. Reports from our brokers will be coming in soon. We can get down to your lab then. What is it that you want me to see?"
Bill McCrory smiled nervously. "I think we had better let Brian explain it to you. He says it is the important breakthrough he has been waiting for. I'm afraid that I don't understand what it is myself. A lot of this artificial intelligence stuff is beyond me. Communications is my field."
J. J. Beckworth nodded understandingly. Many thingswere happening now in this research center that had not been allowed for in the original plan. Megalobe had originally been founded for a single purpose; to catch up and hopefully pass the Japanese with HDTV research. High-definition television, which started with a wider screen and well over a thousand scan lines. The United States had almost missed the boat on this one. Only the belated recognition of foreign dominance in the worldwide television market had brought the Megalobe founding corporations and the Pentagon together--but only after the Attorney General had looked the other way while Congress had changed the antitrust laws to make possible this new kind of industrial consortium. As early as the 1980s the Defense Department--or rather one of its very few technically competent departments, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--had identified HDTV not only as an important tool in future warfare but as being vital for industrial progress in future technologies. So even after the years of reduced budgets DARPA had managed to come up with the needed research money.
Once the funding decisions had been made, with utmost speed all the forces of modern technology had been assembled on a barren site in the California Desert. Where before there had only been arid sand--and a few small fruit farms irrigated by subsurface water--there was now a large and modern research center. A number of new and exciting projects had been undertaken, J. J. Beckworth knew, but he was vague about the details of some of them. As Chairman he had other, more urgent responsibilities--with six different bosses to answer to. The red blink of his telephone light cut through his thoughts.
"Mr Mura, our Japanese broker, is on the line."
"Put him on." He turned to the image on the screen before him. "Good afternoon, Mura-san."
"To you as well, Mr. J. J. Beckworth. I am sorry to disturb you at this late hour."
"It is always my pleasure to hear from you." Beckworth controlled his impatience. This was the only way to dealwith the Japanese. The formalities had to be covered first. "And surely you would not be calling me now if the matter was of no importance."
"The importance must be assigned by your illustrious self. As a simple employee I can only report that the spate of buying of Megalobe shares has been reversed. The latest figures are on their way to me now. I expect them on my desk ... momentarily."
For the smallest instant the image on the screen stilled, the lips did not move. This was the first indication that Mura was actually speaking in Japanese, his words swiftly translated into English--while the movement of his face and lips were simulated by the computer to match the words. He turned and was handed a piece of paper, smiled as he read it.
"The news is very good. It indicates that the price has fallen back to its previous level."
J. J. Beckworth rubbed his jaw. "Any idea of what it was all about?"
"I regretfully report complete ignorance. Other than the fact that the party or parties responsible have lost something close to a million dollars."
"Interesting. My thanks for your help and I look forward to your report."
J. J. Beckworth touched the phone disconnect button and the voxfax machine behind him instantly sprang to life, humming lightly as it disgorged the printed record of their conversation. His words were in black, while Mura's were in red for instant identification. The translation system had been programmed well, and as he glanced through it he saw no more than the usual number of errors. His secretary would file this voxfax record for immediate use. The Megalobe staff translator would later verify the correctness of the translation the computer had made.
"What is it all about?" Bill McCrory asked, puzzled. He was a whiz at electronics, but found the arcane lore of the stock market a complete mystery.
J. J. Beckworth shrugged. "Don't know--may never know. Perhaps it was some high-flying broker out for a quick profit, or a big bank changing its mind. In any case itis not important--now. I think we can see what your resident genius has come up with. Brian, you said his name was?"
"Brian Delaney, sir. But I'll have to phone first, it's getting late." It was dark outside; the first stars were appearing and the office lights had automatically come on.
Beckworth nodded agreement and pointed to the telephone on the table across the room. While the engineer made his call, J. J. punched his appointment book up on the screen and cleared away his work for the day, then checked the engagements for tomorrow. It was going to be a busy one--just like every other day--and he pushed his memory watch against the terminal. The screen said WAIT and an instant later read FINISHED as it downloaded his next day's appointments into the watch. That was that.
Every evening at this time, before he left, he usually had a fifteen-year-old Glenmorangie Scotch malt whisky. He glanced in the direction of the hidden bar and smiled slightly. Not quite yet. It would wait.
Bill McCrory pressed the mute button on the phone before he spoke. "Excuse me, J. J., but the labs are closed. It's going to take a few minutes to set up our visit."
"That's perfectly fine," Beckworth said--and meant it. There had been a number of good reasons for building the research center here in the desert. Lack of pollution and low humidity had been two considerations--but the sheer emptiness of the desert had been much more important. Security had been a primary consideration. As far back as the 1940s, when industrial espionage had been in its infancy, unscrupulous corporations had discovered that it was far easier to steal another company's secrets than spend the time, energy--and money--developing something for oneself. With the growth of computer technology and electronic surveillance, industrial espionage had been one of the really big growth industries. The first and biggest problem that Megalobe had faced was the secure construction of this new facility. This meant that as soon as the few farms and empty desert had been purchased for the site, an impenetrable fence was built around the entire area. Not really a fence--and not really impenetrable, nothing could be. It was a series of fencesand walls that were topped with razor wire and hung with detectors--detectors buried in the ground as well--and blanketed by holographic change detectors, the surface sprinkled with strain gauges, vibration sensors and other devices. It established a perimeter that said "No go!" Next to impossible to penetrate, but if any person or device did get through, why then lights, cameras, dogs--and armed guards were certain to be waiting.
Even after this had been completed, construction of the building had not begun until every existing wire, cable and drainpipe had been dug up, examined, then discarded. One surprising find was a prehistoric Yuman Indian burial site. Construction had been delayed while this had been carefully excavated by archaeologists and turned over to the Yuman and Shoshonean Indian museum in San Diego. Then, and only then, had the carefully supervised construction begun. Most of the buildings had been prefabricated on closely guarded and controlled locations. Sealed electronically, examined, then sealed again. After being trucked to the site in locked containers the entire inspection process had been done yet one more time. J. J. Beckworth had personally supervised this part of the construction. Without the absolutely best security the entire operation would have been rendered useless.
Bill McCrory looked up nervously from the phone. "I'm sorry, J.J., but the time locks have been activated. It's going to take a half an hour at least to arrange a visit. We could put it off until tomorrow."
"Not possible." He punched up the next day's appointments on his watch. "My schedule is full, including lunch in the office, and I have a flight out at four. It's now or never. Get Toth. Tell him to arrange it."
"He may be gone by now."
"Not him. First in and last out."
Arpad Toth was head of security. More than that, he had supervised the implementation of all the security measures; these seemed to be his only interest in life. While McCrory made the call J.J. decided that the time had come. He opened the drinks cabinet and poured out three fingers of the malt whisky. He added the same amount of uncarbonatedMalvern water--no ice of course!--sipped and sighed gratefully.
"Help yourself, Bill. Toth was in, wasn't he?"
"I will, thank you, just some Billygowan water. Not only was he in but he will be supervising the visit personally."
"He has to do that. In fact, both he and I together have to encode an after-hours entry. And if either of us punches in a wrong number, accidentally or deliberately, all hell breaks loose."
"I never realized that security was so tight."
"That's good. You're not supposed to. Everyone who enters those labs is monitored ten ways from Sunday. Exactly at five o'clock the doors are sealed tighter than the bank vaults in Fort Knox. After that time it's still easy to get out, since scientists are prone to work late, or even all night. You must have done that yourself. Now you are going to find out that it is next to impossible to get back in. You'll see what I mean when Toth gets here."
This would be a good chance to catch the satellite news. J.J. touched the controls on his desk. The wallpaper--and the painting--on the far wall disappeared to be replaced by the news service logo. The sixteen-thousand-line high-resolution TV that had been developed in the laboratories here was sensationally realistic and so successful that it had captured a large share of the world TV, Virtual Reality and computer workstation market.
This screen contained tens of millions of microscopic mechanical shutters, a product of the developing science of nanotechnology. The definition and color of Beckworth's screen were so good that, to date, no one had noticed that the wallpaper and picture were just digital images--until he had turned them off. He sipped his drink and watched the news.
And that was all that he watched--and only those news items he was interested in. No sports, commercials, no cutesy animals or pop-singer scandals. The TV's computer sought out and recorded, in order of priority, just those reports that he wanted. International finance, stock market report, television shares, currency exchange rates, onlynews related to commercial relations. All of this done continuously, upgraded instantly, twenty-four hours a day.
When the head of security arrived the wallpaper and painting reappeared and they finished their drinks. Arpad Toth's iron-gray hair was still as close-cropped as it had been during all the years he had been a marine D.I. On that traumatic day when he had finally been forcefully retired from the Marine Corps he had gone right over to the CIA--who had welcomed him with open arms. A number of years had passed after that, as well as a number of covert operations, before he had a major difference of opinion with his new employers. It had taken all of J.J.'s industrial clout, helped by the firm's military connections, to find out what the ruckus had been about. The report had been destroyed as soon as J.J. had read it. But what had stuck in his memory was the fact that the CIA had felt that a plan presented to them by Toth was entirely too ruthless! And this was just before the operations arm of the CIA had been abandoned, when many of their activities had an air of desperation about them. Megalobe had quickly made him a most generous offer to head security for the planned project; he had been with them ever since. His face was wrinkled, his gray hair thinning--but he had not an ounce of fat on his hard-muscled body. It was unthinkable to ask his age or suggest retirement. He entered the office silently, then stood to attention. His face was set in a permanent scowl; no one had ever seen him smile.
"Ready when you are, sir."
"Good. Let's get started. I don't want this to take all night." J. J. Beckworth turned his back when he spoke--there was no need for anyone to know that he kept the security key in a special compartment in his belt buckle--then strode across the office to the steel panel set in the wall. It opened when he turned the key and a red light began blinking inside. He had five seconds to punch in his code. Only when the light had turned green did he wave Toth over. J.J. replaced the key in its hiding place while the security chief entered his own code, his fingers movingunseen inside the electronic control box. As soon as he had done this, and closed the panel again, the telephone rang.
J.J. verbally confirmed the arrangements with Security Control Central. He hung up and started for the door.
"The computer is processing the order," J.J. said. "In ten minutes it will make entry codes available at the outer laboratory terminal. We will then have a one-minute window of access before the entire operation is automatically canceled. Let's go."
If the security arrangements were invisible during the day this certainly was not true at night. In the short walk from the office block to the laboratory building they encountered two guards on patrol--both with vicious-looking dogs on strained leashes. The area was brilliantly lit, while TV cameras turned and followed them as they walked through the grounds. Another guard, his Uzi submachine gun ready, was waiting outside the lab doors. Although the guard knew them all, including his own boss, he had to see their personal IDs before he unlocked the security box. J.J. waited patiently until the light inside turned green. He entered the correct code, then pressed his thumb to the pressure plate. The computer checked his thumbprint as well. Toth repeated this procedure, then in response to the computer's query, punched in the number of visitors.
"Computer needs your thumbprint too, Dr. McCrory."
Only after this had been done did the motors hum in the frame and the door clicked open.
"I'll take you as far as the laboratory," Toth said, "but I'm not cleared for entry at this time. Call me on the red phone when you are ready to leave."
The laboratory was brilliantly lit. Visible through the armor-glass door was a thin, nervous man in his early twenties. He ran his fingers anxiously through his unruly red hair as he waited.
"He looks a little young for this level of responsibility," J. J. Beckworth said.
"He is young--but you must realize that he finished college before he was sixteen years old," Bill McCrory said. "And had his doctorate by the time he was nineteen. Ifyou have never seen a genius before you are looking at one now. Our headhunters followed his career very closely, but he was a loner with no corporate interest, turned down all of our offers."
"Then how come he is working for us now?"
"He overstretched himself. This kind of research is both expensive and time-consuming. When his personal assets began to run out we approached him with a contract that would benefit both parties. At first he refused--in the end he had no choice."
Both visitors had to identify themselves at another security station before the last door opened. Toth stepped aside as they went in; the computer counted the visitors carefully. They entered and heard the door close and lock behind them. J. J. Beckworth took the lead, knowing that the easier he made this meeting, the faster he would get results. He extended his hand and shook Brian's firmly.
"This is a great pleasure, Brian. I just wish we could have met sooner. I have heard nothing but good news about the work you have been doing. You have my congratulations--and my thanks for taking the time to show me what you have done."
Brian's white Irish skin turned red at his unexpected praise. He was not used to it. Nor was he versed enough in the world of business to realize that the Chairman was deliberately turning on the charm. Deliberate or not, it had the desired result. He was more at ease now, eager to answer and explain. J.J. nodded and smiled.
"I have been told that you have had an important breakthrough. Is that true?"
"Absolutely! You could say that this is it--the end of ten years' work. Or rather the beginning of the end. There will be plenty of development to come."
"I was given to understand that it has something to do with artificial intelligence."
"Yes, indeed. I think that we have some real AI, at last."
"Hold your horses, young man. I thought that AI had been around for decades?"
"Certainly. There have been some pretty smart programswritten and used that have been called AI. But what I have here is something far more advanced--with abilities that promise to rival those of the human mind." He hesitated. "I'm sorry, sir, I don't mean to lecture. But how acquainted are you with the work in this field?"
"To be perfectly frank, I know nothing at all. And the name is J.J., if you don't mind."
"Yes, sir--J.J. Then if you will come with me I will bring you up to date a little bit."
He led the way to an impressive array of apparatus that filled an entire laboratory bench. "This is not my work, it's a project that Dr. Goldblum has under way. But it makes a perfect introduction to AI. The hardware isn't much, it's an old Macintosh SE/60 with a Motorola 68050 CPU and a data-base coprocessor that increases its execution speed by a factor of 100. The software itself is based on an updated version of a classic Self-Learning Expert System for renal analysis."
"Just hold it there, son! I don't know what a renal is. I know a little about Expert Systems, but what was it you said--a Self-Learning Expert System? You are going to have to go back and start at square A if you don't want to lose me."
Brian had to smile at this. "Sorry. You're right, I better go back to the beginning. Renal refers to kidney functions. And Expert Systems, as you know, are knowledge-based programs for computers. What we call computer hardware is the machinery that just sits there. Turn off the electricity switch and all you have are a lot of expensive paperweights. Turn it on and the computer has just enough built-in programming to test itself to see if it is working all right, then it prepares to load in its instructions. These computer instructions are called software. These are the programs that you put in to tell the hardware what to do and how to do it. If you load in a word processing program you can then use the computer to write a book. Or if you load a bookkeeping program the same computer will do high-speed accountancy."
J.J. nodded. "I'm with you so far."
"The old, first-generation programs for Expert Systemscould each do only one sort of thing, and one thing only--such as to play chess, or diagnose kidney disease, or design a computer circuit. But each of those programs would do the same thing over and over again, even if the results of doing so were unsatisfactory. Expert Programs were the first step along the road to AI, artificial intelligence, because they do think--in a very simple and stereotyped manner. The self-learning programs were the next step. And I think my new learning-learning type of program will be the next big step, because it can do so much more without breaking down and getting confused."
"Give me an example."
"Do you have a languaphone and a voxfax in your office?"
"Then there are two perfect examples of what I am talking about. Do you take calls from many foreign countries?"
"Yes, a good number. I talked with Japan quite recently."
"Did the person you were talking to hesitate at any time?"
"I think so, yes. His face sort of froze for an instant."
"That was because the languaphone was working in real time. Sometimes there is no way to instantly translate a word's meaning, because you can't tell what the word means until you have seen the next word--like the words 'to,' 'too,' and 'two.' It's the same with an adjective like 'bright,' which might mean shining or might mean intelligent. Sometimes you may have to wait for the end of a sentence--or even the next sentence. So the languaphone, which animates the face, may have to wait for a complete expression before it can translate the Japanese speaker's words into English--and animate the image to synchronize lip movements to the English words. The translator program works incredibly fast, but still it sometimes must freeze the image while it analyzes the sounds and the word order in your incoming call. Then it has to translate, again, into English. Only then can the voxfax start to transcribe and print out the translated version of the conversation. An ordinary fax machine just makes a print of whatever is fed into a fax machine at the other end of the connection. It takes the electronic signals that it receives from the otherfax and reconstructs a copy of the original. But your voxfax is a different kind of bird. It is not intelligent--but it uses an analytical program to listen to the translated or English words of your incoming telephone calls. It analyzes them, then compares them with words in its memory and discovers what words they make up. Then it prints out the words."
"Sounds simple enough."
Brian laughed. "It is one of the most complex things that we have ever taught computers to do. The system has to take each Japanese element of speech and compare it to stored networks of information about how each English word, phrase or expression is used. Thousands of man-hours of programming have been done to duplicate what our brains do in an instant of time. When I say 'dog' you know instantly what I mean, right?"
"Do you know how you did it?"
"No. I just did it."
"That I just did it is the first problem faced in the study of artificial intelligence. Now let's look at what the computer does when it hears 'dog.' Think of regional and foreign accents. The sound may be closer to dawg, or daw-ug, or any other countless variations. The computer breaks down the word into composite phonemes or sounds, then looks at other words you have recently said. It compares with sounds, relationships, and meanings it holds in memory, then uses a circuitry to see if its first guesses make sense; if not it starts over again. It remembers its successes and refers back to them when it confronts new problems. Luckily it works very, very fast. It may have to do thousands of millions of computations before it types out 'dog.''"
"I'm with you so far. But I don't see what is expert about this voxfax system. It doesn't seem to be any different from a word processing system."
"But it is--and you have put your finger on the basic difference. When I type the letters D-O-G into an ordinary word processor, it simply records them in memory. It may move them around, from line to line, stretch them out to fit a justified line or type them out when so instructed--but itis really just inflexibly following unchanging instructions. However, your languaphone and your voxfax program are teaching themselves. When either of them makes a mistake it discards the mistake, then tries something else--and remembers what it has done. This is a first step in the right direction. It is a self-correcting learning program."
"Then this is your new artificial intelligence?"
"No, this is only a small step that was made some years ago. The answer to developing true artificial intelligence is something completely different."
"What is it?"
Brian smiled at the boldness of the question. "It is not that easy to explain--but I can show you what I have done. My lab is right down here."
He led the way through the connected laboratories. It all appeared very unimpressive to Beckworth, just a series of computers and terminals. Not for the first time he was more than glad to be at the business end to this enterprise. Much of the apparatus was turned on and running, though unattended. As they passed a bench mounted with a large TV screen he stopped dead.
"Good God! Is that a three-dimensional TV picture?"
"It is," McCrory said, turning his back on the screen and frowning unhappily. "But I wouldn't look at it for too long if I were you."
"Why not? This will revolutionize the TV business, give us a world lead ..." He rubbed his thumb along his forehead, realizing that one of his very rare headaches was coming on.
"If it worked perfectly, yes, it should certainly do just that. As you can see it apparently works like a dream. Except that no one can watch it for more than a minute or two without getting a headache. But we think we have a good way to fix this in the next model."
J.J. turned away and sighed. "What did they use to say? Back to the drawing board. Anyway, perfect this one and we own the world." J.J. shook his head and turned back to Brian. "I hope you have something to show us that works better than that."
"I do, sir. I'm going to show you the new robot that will overcome most of the limitations of the older AI machines."
"Is this the one that can learn new ways to learn?"
"That's it. It's right over there. Robin-1. Robot Intelligence number 1."
J.J. looked in the indicated direction and tried to control his disappointment.
All he could see was an electronic workbench with various items of some kind on it, along with a large monitor screen. It looked just like any other part of the lab. Brian pointed to an electronic instrumentation rack about the size of a filing cabinet.
"Most of the control circuitry and memory for Robin-1 is in there. It communicates by infrared with its mechanical interface, that telerobot over there."
The telerobot did not look like any robot J.J. had ever seen. It was on the floor, a sort of upside-down treelike thing that stood no higher than his waist. It was topped by two upward-reaching arms that ended in metallic globes. The two lower branches branched--and branched again and again until the smaller branches were as thin as spaghetti. J.J. was not impressed. "A couple of metal stalks stuck on two brooms. I don't get it."
"Hardly brooms. You are looking at the latest advance in microtechnology. This overcomes most of the mechanical limitations of the past generations of robots. Every branch is a feedback manipulator that enables the management program to receive input and--"
"What can it do?" J.J. said brusquely. "I'm very pressed for time."
Brian's knuckles whitened as he made hard fists. He tried to keep his anger from his voice. "For one thing, it can talk."
"Let's hear it." J.J. glanced obviously at his watch.
"Robin, who am I?" Brian said.
A metallic iris opened in both of the erect metal spheres. Tiny motors hummed as they turned to face Brian. They clicked shut.
"You are Brian," a buzzing voice said from the speakers also mounted on the spheres.
J.J.'s nostrils flared. "Who am I?" he asked. There was no response. Brian spoke quickly.
"It only responds when it hears its name, Robin. It also would probably not understand your voice, since it has only had verbal input from me. I'll ask. Robin. Who is this? Figure next to mine."
The diaphragms opened, the eyes moved again. Then there was a faint brushing sound as the countless metallic bristles moved in unison and the thing moved toward Beckworth. He stepped backward and the robot followed him.
"No need to move or be afraid," Brian said. "The current optic receptors only have a short focus. There, it has stopped."
"Object unknown. Ninety-seven percent possibility human. Name?"
"Correct. Name, last, Beckworth. Initial J."
"J. J. Beckworth, aged sixty-two. Blood type O. Social Security number 130-18-4523. Born in Chicago, Illinois. Married. Two children. Parents were ..."
"Robin, terminate," Brian ordered, and the buzzing voice stopped, the diaphragms clicked shut. "I'm sorry about all that, sir. But it had access to personnel records when I was setting up some identification experiments here."
"These games are of no importance. And I am not impressed. What else does the damned thing do? Can it move?"
"In many ways better than you or I," Brian replied. "Robin, catch!"
Brian picked up a box of paper clips--and threw them all toward the telerobot. The thing whirred in a blur of motion as it smoothly unfolded and rearranged most of its tendrils into hundreds of little handlike claws. As they spread out they simultaneously caught every one of the paper clips. It put them all down in a neat pile.
At last J.J. was pleased. "That's good. I think there could be commercial applications. But what about its intelligence?Does it think better than we think, solve problems that we can't?"
"Yes and no. It is new and still has not learned very much. Getting it to recognize objects--and figure out how to handle them--has been a problem for almost fifty years, and finally we have made a machine learn how to do it. Getting it to think at all was the primary problem. Now it is improving very rapidly. In fact, it appears that its learning capacity is increasing exponentially. Let me show you."
J.J. was interested--but dubious. But before he could speak again there was the harsh ringing of a telephone, a loud and demanding sound.