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POWER OF 'MACHINE INTELLIGENCE' STUNS THE IMAGINATION

My unforgettable memories of the past century include FDR waving at me, watching Ike hold the hand of his beautiful chauffeur, spending a half hour alone with Marlene Dietrich, watching Patton and Zhukov looking each other over, and Ike lifting the Non-Fraternization Ban so I could get married in Berlin to a non-German.

One memory however, is extremely relevant to the next century. It was late in the evening and I was working alone in an experimental field station on the side of a mountain. It was 1973 and I was checking out a new computer, which weighed about 40 pounds. I entered a complex mathematical program into the computer and was convinced that it would be unable to handle it. When the program was in, the screen -- which was about a half inch by six inches wide -- went blank.

A half hour later, I figured that the computer had gone into a loop of some kind. I was about to shut it down when I decided to make a cup of coffee in another room. Minutes later, I heard a click and rushed into the room. On the screen was the correct answer to my problem.

I was stunned and a tear came to my eye. During those 33 minutes, that little machine had done millions of calculations and it had also kept score.

The first thing that came to my mind was the potential power of "machine intelligence." It could be the greatest hidden threat to mankind. My hope for the next century is that it does not somehow become a runaway.

MINAS ENSANIAN
Buffalo

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