The processing power of computers has been exponential. Today computers are a million times more powerful than they were just 40 years ago. Computers are chess champions and can handle complicated mathematical problems with ease, but they cannot understand simple English. Instructions to computers need to be painstakingly precise. A computer program has to resolve the ambiguity that characterizes syntax and semantics in simple sentences; it has to analyze natural language and determine its meaning. Computers cannot understand humans like we understand each other.
This is good news for privacy. The billions of communications intercepted by the National Security Agency (NSA) were gathered by computers, but the analysis of all this data has to be done by human intelligence and nobody has the time. HAL 9000 or a Terminator scenario, where computers take over the world, is still a long ways away. The bad news is that because computers cannot understand humans, we dumb down and adjust our world to computers.
Adapted from a July 2012 N + 1 Magazine article
“It’s a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.” – Pete Seeger