Thanks also to Tom Key, Esq. and Ken Williamson for their notes and comments; to Michelle Sheridan for encouraging me when I had my doubts; to my mother, author Suzanne W. Hull, for supporting my efforts and genially putting up with me; to my brother, George, and Warren Casey for computer support; and to the many sources listed in the endnotes.
If you’ve dealt with me over the past few years and think you should be mentioned on this page, you probably should! Please pat yourself on the back for me.
To all of you who helped, herein credit goes to you and faults lie with me.
INTRODUCTION: IS THE FUTURE SNEAKING UP ON US?
Gary Kasparov must have woken up, late one night, bathed in flop sweat after he resigned his chess match against IBM’s Deep Blue computer in 1997. After all, he’d boldly predicted that “we will beat machines for some time to come.”(1) And he was world champion, perhaps the greatest ever. His honor, and that of humanity, was at stake. Alas, the daring prediction — along with one of our most precious vanities, the notion that the human mind reigns supreme — evaporated in the heat of a relentless central processor. “I’m a human being,” Kasparov said. “When I see something that is well beyond my understanding, I’m afraid.”(2)
What does it mean for our future when one of the great geniuses of the century is vanquished by a patchwork of microchips? What becomes of our vaunted powers of creativity and ingenuity when a machine can outthink us at our most revered intellectual exercise? For that matter, where is our purpose when computer-aided design and management programs threaten to put attachés, architects, and attorneys out of work? What will become of us when machines invade our workplaces and replace us with mechanical parts that do a better job, do it twenty-four hours a day, and don’t need child care? Where is our uniqueness when a box contains more brainpower than a brain? Will gadgets put all of us out of work? Is Kasparov’s defeat a bellwether of our doom? Are we obsolete?