What makes humans so special? This question used to be asked by comparing humans to animals. How are humans better than animals? Some answers that I have heard fall into one of the following three things: 1. Speech/language 2. Free will 3. Humans have minds/ brains/ souls. Animals don’t think, they don’t ask questions, they don’t debate whether they should do a good deed or an evil one.
The new, modern form of this question is: How are humans better than machines? That is the question that has been going around the internet in response to the Jeopardy match where two extremely skilled players played against a machine developed by IMB nick-named Watson. Despite tricky questions with puns and words with many different possible meanings, Watson beat the two humans.
I did not watch the show, but one of the players wrote a fascinating piece which I really enjoyed reading and recommend, entitled, “My Puny Human Brain.”
Most articles I read about the human vs. machine debate took the approach, “Wow, look at how amazing machines are. They are better than humans! Machines are going to take over the world!” This approach is forgetting that humans are the ones who made the machines to begin with. We’re so focused on how awesome the machines are that we forget that really it is the humans behind the machines who are so awesome. Machines are only as smart as the humans who programmed them.
This made me think about how really this leads back to the fact that Hashem is so awesome. Hashem created us and gave us the power to create. We get so arrogant about all that we can accomplish, when really it is Hashem who gave us the ability to do everything that we do. We only have as much power as Hashem gives us.