Astronomy and Physics Club’s last meeting this semester


Taylor Rogers

The last meeting of the Astronomy and Physics Club hosted Saddleback instructor Bradley Hughes in his presentation on the reality of artificial intelligence.

Hughes, who is in his first year here at Saddleback, discussed the definition of artificial intelligence and the differences between machines and human thought. 

The first topic discussed was how computing and intelligence differ. 

“How is something intelligent?” asked Hughes. “Is it something that is external, something that you can see?” 

If there were a development of a machine that could form certain responses, the difference from actual thought and discussion would be minimal.

What makes a human a human, however, is a sense of humor and that we possibly show a true understanding of something. Humans are no different than a machine; they just give off certain reactions to what they are hearing. 

For instance, a computer that is programmed to form sentences based on what a person says, will not know what that individual is talking about.

Nonetheless, there are programs that have been developed in the past, but are being altered to this day, that could cause many to believe that they are talking to a real person.

“Programs such as A.L.I.C.E, which you can find on the Internet, have many generations of systems where you can actually chat with this program and it responds,” said Hughes. “With every new generation, it’s getting more and more difficult for people to tell that they aren’t talking to an actual person.”

Not only can there be oral communication with these programs, but technology is also now bringing us robots that are able to learn from what they see and adapt to new conditions.

”Machines are becoming more and more like humans, in both the way they act and the way they look,” Hughes said.  “At some point in the near future, it will be impossible to tell the difference between a living being and a machine. When this is the case, humanity will be forced to face questions of both what it means to be ‘intelligent’ and how we regard machines in society.”

Hughes also talked about the creation of alternate worlds via the Internet. New “games” are being developed where one can create an avatar and inhabit that world. 

The line between reality and the world created by technology is quickly fading. Hughes claimed that it is possible to start companies within the world that people create and actually make money from them. There is even evidence of divorce based on how an individual acted while in his or her programmed avatar’s life. 

The general idea of Hughes’ lecture was that humans are rapidly becoming less capable of being smarter than technology.

”The human brain is physical, but we’re nothing special,” Hughes said.

For those interested, there will be an Orange County Astronomy Club meeting on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Chapman College, featuring a lecture by George Ellery Hale. 


Astronomy and Physics Club is also trying to promote its new Web site, and its next meeting will be in January at a date and time uncertain at press time.

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