When its valves fuse | Kindle and Turing

Amazon’s Kindle was a big copyright fuss; Kindle was an electronic book reading apparatus which enabled users to read books, including reading them aloud via a text-to-speech mechanism. However, after a few press releases and maybe legal threats from the book publishers, Amazon forfeited and removed the text-to-speech, and announced that only authors that will specifically request it may be read aloud by Kindle.

However, Neil Gaiman‘s hypothesis in favour of Amazon was actually fascinating. The Argument began when Roy Blount Jr. stated that The AudioBook were actually being replaced by elegant text-to-speech alogrithms. He explained that the advanced speech abilities today actually harm their ability to make the fiscal benefit from the added value. However, Gaimen ansewerd him by sending his readers to listen to a real audiobook and explaining that “[N]ow imagine a world in which someone sits with a novel on the screen and carefully codes every character and tone of voice, every emotion. Imagine the time involved, and the effort involved in making something that, no matter how good it ever gets, will not be as good as a person reading it. This isn’t teaching a computer to play chess”.

Gaiman’s text, unfortunately, misses the truth and reminds me of Prof. Jefferson Lister‘s oratation criticising Alan Turing‘s concept of Artificial Intelligence. Lister (quoted here) said that : “‘Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain — that is, not only write it but know that it had written it. No mechanism could feel (and not merely signal, an easy contrivance) pleasure at its successes, grief when its valves fuse, be warmed by flattery, be made miserable by its mistakes, be charmed by sex, be angry or depressed when it cannot get what it wants”

Lister and Gaiman’s err is reasonable, and it’s using simple induction assuming that the existing technology cannot develop anyway but linear and that computing abilities to analyse text will never be good enough. But what if it will? what will happen after technology will progress well enough to read sonnets in a real manner and we shall teach it to know pain and write such sonnets when it’s valves  fuse? shall Gaiman still support the technology or will it forfeit?

3 thoughts on “When its valves fuse | Kindle and Turing

  1. Actually, I cut out the paragraph that followed, which talked about, yes, the Turing test, because I thought it was a distraction. At the point where a computer can “understand” text and “interpret” it as well as a good actor would, you can remove the quotation marks, and we’re no longer dealing with text to speech. When that day comes I would be worrying less about computers reading me old novels and more about their writing new ones.

  2. Hi Neil and thanks for commenting.

    I do agree with you that once a machine could write poetry we would be in bigger problems, but it’s just a few steps away from where we are…

  3. And I say, if a machine can understand and interprate text, and if it reads a novelist’s book aloud, the novelist should sue that particular machine, not Amazon.

    But what are they waiting for? They should sue God / Nature for creating the people that built that Kindle that may, sometime, in the far future, make them earn less money from their copyrighted text.

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