Wednesday, March 01, 2006


The baseball singularity is here

Ray Kurzweil, in his recent book The Singularity is Near writes about the moment, which he sees just over the horizon, when machines will surpass human abilities and be actual thinking machines (Bob, please help me out with the explanation in comments if I've gotten this wrong.).

Well, in baseball terms, the moment of machine superiority may already be here. At a Marlins exhibition game yesterday, the star wasn't any of the Marlins' suspect prospects.

It was a pitching machine. That recorded five strikeouts.

Which lead me to think about how a pitching machine should be programmed to pitch to Old Sammy Sosa, pre-batting eye (or New New Sammy, post-batting eye): "Pitch 1: low and away slider. Pitch two: low and away slider. Pitch 3: low and away slider. Strikeout!"

Corey Patterson, on the other hand: "Pitch one: throw ball into stands. Pitch two: throw ball into dugout. Pitch threee: roll ball to plate. Strikeout!"
And I think even a robot would take Lefty Gomez's advice about pitching to Stan Musial: "Make your best pitch and back up third base. That relay might get away and you've got another shot at him."

Opening Day can't come too soon, if I'm talking about baseball robots.

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"when machines will surpass human abilities and be actual thinking machines "

Thinking machines are just one part of the picture, and even that one part has less to do with them 'thinking' than it has to with the trend for all states of technology to contribute to the design of the next generation of newer/ faster/ cheaper/ smarter technology in (according to Kurzweil) an accellerating upward trend. So, machines desiging better machines might be a better way to put it.

The other parts of The Singularity include the merging of biotechnology and nanotechnology, so that our lives become extended exponentially - and, presumably, we all become better hitters.
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