The $20,000 Question: An Essay by Extropia DaSilva

The Mind Child is back with another essay 🙂 Enjoy — Gwyn

Does the name Mitch Kapor sound familiar? If you are interested in the history of SL, the answer may well be yes, because he was one if LL’s earliest investors. “Mitch Kapor was the only person who got it”, said Rosedale in an interview with Inc. Magazine.

Personally, Mitch Kapor first came to my attention through an essay of his, published in 2002 on Kurzweilai.net. As with LL and SL, Kapor was putting money forward in anticipation of a future outcome, but this time the money was riding on a failure, not success. The bet centred on a question: Will the Turing Test be passed by a machine by 2029? Ray Kurzweil said ‘yes’, Kapor said ‘No’ and whoever loses will donate $20,000 to a charity selected by the winner.

In his essay, Kapor explained why he was sceptical of the possibility that a machine will ever pass the test. ‘To pass the test, a computer would have to be able of communicating via this medium (text) at least as competently as a person. There is no restriction on the subject matter…It is such a broad canvas, in my view, that it is impossible to forsee when, or even if, a machine intelligence will be able to paint a picture which can fool a human judge’. Kapor further elaborated on why a computer can never mimic a person, but what struck me as I reread this essay recently was this: Just possibly, SL may prove to be a crucial link in the enabling technologies of human-like intelligence.
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