Machine Smarter Than Naked Human Being?

I keep seeing the statement that machines can now beat human beings at chess.

To me, this is like saying that a car can move faster than a human being.

A naked, unassisted human being is pretty useless. Most of us, me included, would not last a month without tools, naked in the woods. I might not even last a day. But does it matter? Human beings do rule the Earth, last time I checked.

I can move faster, over longer distances than most animals. I can kill even the largest beast from 100 meters away. I can get images from the sky as accurate as what any bird can get. I can swim for hours without coming back to the surface.

I can do all these things because I use tools.

And I submit to you that the only way a machine can surpass human beings is by not being a tool anymore. A tool, no matter how great, cannot surpass the one who holds it. A drill does not make holes faster than a human being, a car does not move faster than a human being, and so on. They only surpass an unassisted (naked) human being.

So, when does a machine stop being a tool for human beings? Presumably when human beings no longer control it.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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