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Mankind Outsmarts Computers on Screen and Off… For Now

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Man racing to outsmart the machine — with nothing less than the fate of the world at stake — is a classic
movie storyline. In WarGames , Matthew Broderick
convinces the W.O.P.R. computer that thermonuclear war
is futile; matinee idol Keir Dullea outsmarts the wily HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey by sneaking into the Logic Memory Center; and Linda Hamilton is always one step ahead of Skynet in
The
Terminator
trilogy. Movie computers, for all their power, speed and single-mindedness, still can’t hold a candle to real live people when it comes to creative problem-solving. And it’s not just on screen.

For years, programmers have been trying to create a computer that will beat a human player at Go, the ancient Chinese game of strategy. Despite a million dollar prize at stake, computers have only managed to triumph on a scaled back game board. Go is infinitely more complex than chess, so the possible moves that a good player can intuit — like sensing when a configuration won’t work — are still too sophisticated for computers, which calculate quickly, but, mechanically, with “brute force.” According to the Times Online, “These are the very hallmarks of human intelligence — adaptation to uncertainty, intuition, wisdom, the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of others, and a sense of mortality — that computers cannot replicate, yet.”

Thank goodness for us.

Click here for the complete schedule of WarGames on AMC.

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