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The Pathetic Fallacy

Episode #35
Aired 1948-02-02
Length: 28:53
Size: 6.61 MB

Download: 35.mp3
Read: Script

The human brain is basically an electrical device. Can a computer be constructed that is so complex as to duplicate the human brain? If so, does such a machine have consciousness? Does it have emotions?

A huge machine, taking up several rooms, has been built to solve mathematical equations. A scientist named Quinn assures reporters that despite its complexity and the fact that he referred to it as an electronic brain, it does not actually think. Then, to demonstrate how the accuracy of the machine was proven by giving it progressively harder problems, he asks it to compute the value of two plus two. In one-millionth of a second, it gives the answer: five.

"The Pathetic Fallacy" is an amusing episode, and also very relevant. In the near future it may be possible to create new "biological" life by ordering DNA, and at the same time become possible to build "mechanical" computers which operate on the same basic principles as natural life. As technology becomes more complex and is made to simulate life in more and more ways, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what is alive and what isn't.

"2654366 antilogarithm x plus y."
- the machine