The best thing about pubs is the licence to engage in conversations that may seem a little out of place in the office, at a football match or in Devon. One such conversation a couple of nights ago brought up the concept of computer Artificial Intelligence.
Because of computer power doubling every two-years, it was speculated that in ten years they would be able to think like human-beings, even maybe surpass them.
I can’t buy this. I mean what makes us human? What makes us more than just micro-chips, RAM, and running around killing monsters with a laser cannon in a badly lit cave complex? For example, could a computer ten years in the future be better than Shane Ritchie?
I’m the first to admit that a PC of 2016 would be able to forge out a career as a light-entertainer, presenting shows similar to ‘Run the Risk’ and ‘The Shane Ritchie Experience’. It may need to be fitted with a dedicated ‘Cheeky Chappy’ processor card to handle the intense unrelenting glint in the eye, but with this admittedly expensive additional hardware, I am confident an effective Shane Ritchie like personality could be modelled. What I am less confident about is what it would do if its career took a sudden and shocking nose-dive.
Shane Ritchie took time off, relaxed, ate some fruit and decided to act in the hit BBC 1 soap-opera Eastenders. This was a good decision for Ritchie, who is now firmly one of the 10,000 most popular celebrities in the United Kingdom. His character Alfie Moon was taken into the hearts of many a horny-housewife and his romance with the character Kat Slater was personally the most convincing thing I have ever seen.
But I cannot conceive the processing power necessary for a Cheeky, fun, bouncy, slightly overweight, reasonably amusing PC to work out that appearing in a soap, where suicide is used to lighten the mood, could possibly be a good idea. Even if all the computers in the world in 2016 were networked together into a super computer named something like IAN, it would still probably decide that appearing in Pantomimes in Weymouth was the only way forward. So Shane Ritchie wins, there’s no doubt in my mind.
As for Elton John: I don’t think a computer in even 10,000 years time would have anywhere near the raw power needed to be able to change the words to ’Candle in the Wind’ to pay tribute to a dead Queen of Hearts. “Goodbye England’s rose.” are not the words of bits and bytes, but of pure and beautiful; unsynthesisable human over-sentimentality.