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FleshFactor: Cross Pollination



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> From:	Michael Williamson <michael.williamson@nlc-bnc.ca>
> Would that there was some cross pollination here

You'll be getting it! I am the system administrator who knows you did
something stupid to the computer. (Actually, I'm a researcher [operating
systems and databases], not a sysadmin, but I still end up fixing
people's machines a lot.) For now I'm still listening quietly, mostly
because it's polite to listen a bit to a conversation to actually
understand what's being discussed before butting it. 

I'll admit that the writing style in this list scares me. I am not a
writer of English. I write programs. Sometimes I write research papers,
but those are written in a very different language than what I read on
this list. I can read the language this list is written in, as I can
read a few other foreign languages, but I'll be posting in my native
tongue (or a pidgin version of yours). If you don't want this, let me
know.

I will note briefly that even programmers want computers that adapt to
them. This past week I was at a computer science workshop up at Lake
Tahoe, and I took some free time to go horseback riding (for my first
time). I thought a lot about this list while riding, how working with a
living thing that responds to your demands is very enjoyable. The horse
often wanted to eat grass, and I kept having to tell it no with a pull,
that we should be going forward. I could make the horse speed up, stop,
slow down. Why was it far more enjoyable than riding a mechanical horse
would have been? I don't think it's because I have a need to bully or
dominate. I think it's because being understood is intrinsically
pleasurable.

My computer does not understand me. It doesn't have the smallest clue of
what I want. It's perfectly willing to delete a week's worth of work if
I type in the wrong command. And understanding is not easy to fake
(beyond the first few minutes of interaction). The AI folks have been
trying for forty years and still don't know how to do it.


- Joe

Joseph S. Barrera III   (joebar@microsoft.com)
http://research.microsoft.com/~joebar
Phone, Office: (415) 778-8227;
Cellular: (415) 601-3719; Home: (415) 588-4801

The opinions expressed in this message are my own personal views and do
not reflect the official views of Microsoft Corporation.



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