machine to human or human to machine?

While ago, I read an article about simulating a 13 years old boy by computer which pass the Turing test. You can read about this here, if you have not yet read. Since then, I aimed to write something about this news which has been postponed until now. The argument by Alan Turing, the father of artificial intelligence, is as following; if a machine was indistinguishable from a human, then it was “thinking”. Ever since, there has been many failed efforts to make one of such machines.

Upon reading this news many people surprised that we became such technologically advanced to simulate a human. But there is also other side to this story, we could say we became such unintelligent that a machine can do whatever we do. However, I believe it is a little bit of both. For everybody who is living in the modern era, particularly in North America, it is easy to see how fast we are growing technology-wise. I should also mention that, although there has been several technological jumps, the gaps between the jumps were never filled. That’s why we have many gadgets and softwares each of which suffer serious problems and restriction. I believe, it is mainly because technology is not about providing service (anymore) than making money. Hence, the amount of hours one has to invest to perfect a device, or an app, or a software, does not worth the money.

Now, let me briefly mention what I mean that we became dumb recently.  Over the course of the last century we have more turned to become a man of repetition rather than a man of creation, invention, or exploration. Our educational system combined with our work environment have been designed in such a way to diminish the differences between us while strengthen our similarities (why? look here). If we look at our everyday life, we see that what we are doing, can also be performed by a machine, but for the moment we are less expensive than a machine. So to speak, we are converging to a machine life, where intelligence is replaced by algorithm and ideas are replaced by mere data. The bottom line is that from top to bottom of our daily life, our brain solely performs a given algorithm and controls our involuntarily movements.

The very surprise of this year fields medal.

Let me begin this post by congratulating Maryam Mirzakhani for receiving the equivalent to Nobel Prize in Mathematics this year. I imagine that everybody has heard about the recent big achievement made by the Persian mathematician who is the first Iranian and also the first woman ever won the fields medal. I was going to send something earlier; however, I was trying to explain (or find an explanation) in layman terms what the award is for, which was not possible yet. I may post on that, later.

I, myself, got interested to mathematics in early years of high school and started reading different books on geometry, number theory, graph theory, and combinatorics. I was really enjoying solving problems of those books. It was when I first came across the name of Maryam Mirzakhani through a yellow book on number theory (if I remember correctly). Since then, I was sure that these mathematicians will flourish in future years.

As an Iranian individual working on mathematics and physics, I am very proud. I am also reminded of my dreams for which I left the country. It further reminds me how the societies and governments can be so cruel to people, particularly in academia, in stopping them from following  their dreams, particularly for international students. These days, not everyone has the luxury of following up on his/her own ideas; you can easily get busy with idiocy and unrelated daily issues, which is no good for anyone. Not to mention the outside pressure from funding agencies.

I am very proud that a Persian mathematician could break into the list of top mathematicians, and I have no doubt that in coming years, we will have more Iranian mathematicians in the list. Since, I believe, mathematics is still one pure field which rely less on technology and more on intuition which ancient nations such as Iran are full of it. Intuition is one treasure we have, and we should cherish.