Ever since Mary Shelley created Frankenstein’s monster, the narrative of science vs humanity has become legendary. Like her good doctor, we admire our new god Science, but at the same time harbor tiny terrors of what it might do with us mere mortals.
While Hollywood tracks the usual suspects — monsters, vampires, and ETs — each of us has gingerly invited the prime suspect into our own homes. The computer. Humanity’s latest Good/Evil innovation. We have embraced it with innocent enthusiasm, for after all it is our ltatest greatest creation, isn’t it?
As with Dr Frankenstein’s creation, the answer is yes, as long as it serves us, not us serve it. Ms Shelley might have added: as long as there are still some things only people can do. Like detecting the subtleties of another’s voice, face, smile. Whoops…that last one is no longer true. MIT — where they oughta know about such matters! — has just released its findings.
That’s right — the big metallic guy wins. Their computer out-decoded humans in detecting the subtle distinctions in smiles from delight, love, and frustration. And while the program is intended to help autistic people better read emotions….well, we all remember how Shelley’s doctor’s good intentions quickly led elsewhere. Or as Aristotle grumbled 2500 years before Shelley: “There is a foolish corner in the brain of the wisest man.”
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