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Opinion: Artificial intelligence, part II

There is an adage in science that “we can see the horizon because we stand on the shoulders of giants.” The aphorism connotes that current knowledge is the product of the multiplication of the victories and failures of past generations of scientists. We, the human species, improve at the rate of years, generations, centuries, and millennia.


Computers learn electronically. In everyday application, that’s somewhere between 50 percent and 99 percent of the speed of light (186,000 miles per second). The thing that slows computers is their reliance on the wires along which electrons move, whether these wires are solid state or strings of copper connected to a power source.


More than two decades ago, computers could out-think, out-plan, and out-strategize us. In 1996, Deep Blue (an IBM computer) beat Gary Kasparov, the reigning world champion, in a game of chess. With the advent of artificial intelligence computers learn and improve themselves by drawing on millions of data bases. In a way, these storehouses of data are the computers’ “shoulders of giants.”

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