[VIDEO] Christian Bale to Play Steve Jobs

Aaron Sorkin has confirmed that Christian Bale will play Steve Jobs in Sony’s upcoming biopic about the Apple co-founder. Sorkin penned the script and Danny Boyle is attached to direct….(more)

bale-jobs


Walter Isaacson on the Lessons of Alan Turing: How Creativity Drives Machines

turing-robot-hand

Walter Isaacson writes: We live in the age of computers, but few of us know who invented them. Because most of the pioneers were part of collaborative teams working in wartime secrecy, they aren’t as famous as an Edison, Bell or Morse. But one genius, the English mathematician Alan Turing, stands out as a heroic-tragic figure, and he’s about to get his due in a new movie, “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which won the top Alan-Turing-portraitaward at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month and will open in theaters in November.

“He also wrestled with the issue of free will: Are our personal preferences and impulses all predetermined and programmed, like those of a machine?”

The title of the movie refers to a test that Turing thought would someday show that machines could think in ways indistinguishable from humans. His belief in the potential of artificial intelligence stands in contrast to the school of thought that argues that the combined talents of humans and computers, working together as partners, will always be more creative than computers working alone.

Despite occasional breathless headlines, the quest for pure artificial intelligence has so far proven disappointing. But the alternative approach of connecting humans and machines more intimately continues to produce astonishing innovations. As the movie about him shows, Alan Turing’s own deeply human personal life serves as a powerful counter to the idea that there is no fundamental distinction between the human mind and artificial intelligence.

[Check out Walter Isaacson’s book “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” at Amazon.com]

Turing, who had the cold upbringing of a child born on the fraying fringe of the British gentry, displayed a innovatorstrait that is common among innovators. In the words of his biographer Andrew Hodges, he was “slow to learn that indistinct line that separated initiative from disobedience.”

He taught himself early on to keep secrets. At boarding school, he realized he was homosexual, and he became infatuated with a classmate who died of tuberculosis before they graduated. During World War II, he became a leader of the teams at Bletchley Park, England, that built machines to break the German military codes.

Feeling the need to hide both his sexuality and his code-breaking work, Turing often found himself playing an imitation game by pretending to be things he wasn’t. He also wrestled with the issue of free will: Are our personal preferences and impulses all predetermined and programmed, like those of a machine?

These questions came together in a paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” that Turing published in 1950. With a schoolboy’s sense of fun, he invented a game—one that is still being played and debated—to give meaning to the question, “Can machines think?” He proposed a purely empirical definition of artificial intelligence: If the output of a machine is indistinguishable from that of a human brain, then we have no meaningful reason to insist that the machine isn’t “thinking.”

Colossus, the world's first electronic programmable computer, at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, England. Bletchley Park was the British forces' intelligence center during WWII, where cryptographers deciphered top-secret military communiques between Hitler and his armed forces. The communiques were encrypted in the Lorenz code which the Germans considered unbreakable, but the codebreakers at Bletchley cracked the code with the help of Colossus. SSPL/Getty Images

Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer, at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, England. Bletchley Park was the British forces’ intelligence center during WWII, where cryptographers deciphered top-secret military communiques between Hitler and his armed forces. The communiques were encrypted in the Lorenz code which the Germans considered unbreakable, but the codebreakers at Bletchley cracked the code with the help of Colossus. SSPL/Getty Images

His test, now usually called the Turing Test, was a simple imitation game. An interrogator sends written questions to a human and a machine in another room and tries to determine which is which. If the output of a machine is indistinguishable from that of a human brain, he argued, then it makes no sense to deny that the machine is “thinking.” Read the rest of this entry »


Disaster: How The Macintosh Failed (and Still Changed Computing)

mac_600_300

Chris O’Brien writes:  This morning much of the tech world is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original Macintosh computer.

It was Jan. 24, 1984, when a young Steve Jobs — sporting a goofy bow tie — stepped onto a stage in Cupertino, Calif., and unveiled the Macintosh. However deeply cynical we have grown about product launches, there is no doubt about how genuine the enthusiasm was in the auditorium that day.

Just watch the above video to the end and see the audience go completely bonkers. As a bonus, you get to see Jobs showing early signs of his stagecraft.

The event stands as one of Silicon Valley’s most mythic — a single moment that everyone can point to and say, “That was when everything changed.”

And that’s sort of true. But the reality, as always, is more complex.

Read the rest of this entry »