Monday, May 21, 2007

Artificial Intelligence

I was supposed to be a smart kid. I skipped a grade, could have skipped another, and throughout my childhood had adults earmark me for great things. So what the hell happened?

I've rarely felt myself smarter than anyone else. I had a neighbor once who, after the neighborhood voted to move ahead on some canal maintenance and share the cost, bemoan the state of the country and claim he was seriously considering moving to South America. This used to be a democracy, he told me. Um, I thought. We took a vote and majority ruled. Can it get more democratic than that?

That gave me a small boost.

Once, though, my Santa had brought me a Rubik's Cube for Christmas. I was tacitly expected to master that thing in record time. Could never make it go, not for a second. I could not, and to this day can not, comprehend the underlying mechanics that allow each individual cube to rotate on a vertical plane as well as a horizontal one. I can't get past that.

Worse for me could be the common ball point pen with the click button at the end. You push it once and the tip locks down for writing; you push it again and it pops back into the pen cylinder. Push it again, it comes down. Push it again, it goes up. HOW CAN IT DO THAT? I've sat down with pen (!) and paper and tried to puzzle it out and I can't come up with anything short of a Rube Goldberg concept.

How smart can I be? I can pick up the telephone and call someone far, far away and not only will they hear the words that I speak, they will hear them in my voice. How can this be? I've spent thousands of hours in airplanes of all sizes. I can't lift them and if any of them fell on me I'd be crushed. Yet the damned things fly and when they do I nearly always pound on the floor and marvel at the solid ground soaring thousands of feet above the Earth. Boggles the mind.

I've always had a good memory, not eidetic but maybe the next best thing. This has made me wonder if having a good memory has fooled people into thinking I was intelligent. On the other hand, couldn't a good memory be a side effect of an extra dollop of smarts?

Unfortunately, now that I'm afflicted with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, my memory has suffered terribly. Does this mean I've become dumber? Do I even need this excuse? On the plus side, my memory seems to be improving gradually so maybe I'm getting smarter again. Or my ability to fake it is on the rise.

I don't know. If anyone can explain it to me, call me (!) or write me a note with a clicking ball point pen (!) and then send it air mail (!). How it will get to me I will, apparently, never understand. But if I'm lucky I'll forget all about it soon.

2 Comments:

Blogger WBS said...

Poor Algernon.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Rick Ollerman said...

He had a much higher run of glory than I ever did...

8:18 PM  

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