Science: The Thinking Machine

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Future machines may be above such weaknesses and able to take over more & more kinds of thinking. According to Mc-Culloch, human brains have been decreasing in size since the time (20,000 years ago) of Cro-Magnon Man. McCulloch suggests sardonically that this may be nature's reaction to the fact that as man's society becomes more elaborate, individual men find less need for their brains.

Ruler or Tool? Perhaps the computing machines, by lifting more of the thinking burden, will prove a last step in the long, slow process of mental collectivization. Men may come to specialize on the simple, narrow tasks of serving the machines. Men's brains may grow smaller & smaller as the machines' brains grow larger. Will the time come at last when the machines rule—perhaps without seeming to rule—as the mysterious "spirit of the colony" rules individual ants?

To all such chilling speculation, the young engineers in Professor Aiken's laboratory have a breezy answer: "When a machine is acting badly, we consider it a responsible person and blame it for its stupidity. When it's doing fine, we say it is a tool that we clever humans built."

*Short for "Bessel Functions," a mathematical tool analogous to logarithms. *From the Greek word meaning steersman.

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