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    "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

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    "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby DragEgusku » 27 Aug 2015 04:25

    I recently reread Dune and this phrase caught my attention now.
    Was Piter serious or he wanted to flatter the Baron? To me, it seems that Piter was dead serious, but I could be wrong.
    By that phrase, Frank gave the impression that the human mind is superior to any intelligent machines. Even the vicious mind of the Baron can outperform any machine - what seems to me very interesting.
    What do you think - am I right or not?
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby Freakzilla » 27 Aug 2015 05:50

    I think he was just trying to flatter the Baron. However he could have been referring to consciousness such as in the discussion between Leto II and RM Antioch in GEoD. The unbroken continuum is always superior to serial bits.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby georgiedenbro » 27 Aug 2015 12:18

    I think so too, Freak. He likely was not suggesting the Baron's computing power is comparable to that of a machine (a hilarious insult for a mentat to say to a non-mentat), but rather that the human mind has certain potentials that machines don't have. After all, Piter said the Baron could outperform machines, not that he actually does outperform them or ever did. Knowing Piter's relationship with the Baron I would say his comment was a combination of truth and also a snide remark implying that the Baron hasn't bothered to develop the potential of his own mind as Piter has done. You could read it as "Even your limited mind is capable of outperforming machines, although it never will because you're a lazy slob."
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby D Pope » 27 Aug 2015 21:56

    DragEgusku wrote:Was Piter serious or he wanted to flatter the Baron? ?

    :twocents-twocents:
    The really cool thing mentats do is plan and anticipate. I'm sure there's lots of mundane
    number crunching stuff Frank didn't get into but being able to sift relevant fact from all
    the noise is what marks a good mentat. I think Piter was dead serious, in that the Baron
    would have been able to do a better job than machines at what he was wanting them for.
    Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby Deskepticon » 29 Aug 2015 00:58

    I think he was serious. For reasons entirely out of the context of the book.

    Consider the year Frank wrote that and the capabilities of computers at the time. I think it was simply a lack of imagination at what computer would/could achieve on Frank's part.

    The Baron was probably able to out-perform a shire-sized, moth-infested machine whose primary function was basically a glorified calculator.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby georgiedenbro » 29 Aug 2015 08:17

    Deskepticon wrote:Consider the year Frank wrote that and the capabilities of computers at the time. I think it was simply a lack of imagination at what computer would/could achieve on Frank's part.


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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby Serkanner » 29 Aug 2015 14:54

    Deskepticon wrote:I think he was serious. For reasons entirely out of the context of the book.

    Consider the year Frank wrote that and the capabilities of computers at the time. I think it was simply a lack of imagination at what computer would/could achieve on Frank's part.

    The Baron was probably able to out-perform a shire-sized, moth-infested machine whose primary function was basically a glorified calculator.


    Frank wrote Destination: Void in 1965 ... he had a firm grasp on what the potential for computers was.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby Cpt. Aramsham » 31 Aug 2015 12:04

    There are still a number of tasks at which humans can easily outperform computers. Of course the Baron couldn't do arithmetic faster than a computer, but to lay a plan to lure the Atreides to Arrakis and their destruction, considering all the political, financial, military and personal variables, anticipating various possible outcomes and how to best respond? That's the kind of thinking Piter is saying the Baron could beat a machine at (while a mentat in turn could outperform him, at least when it comes to analyzing the data and projecting outcomes).
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby georgiedenbro » 31 Aug 2015 16:51

    Cpt. Aramsham wrote:There are still a number of tasks at which humans can easily outperform computers. Of course the Baron couldn't do arithmetic faster than a computer, but to lay a plan to lure the Atreides to Arrakis and their destruction, considering all the political, financial, military and personal variables, anticipating various possible outcomes and how to best respond? That's the kind of thinking Piter is saying the Baron could beat a machine at (while a mentat in turn could outperform him, at least when it comes to analyzing the data and projecting outcomes).


    I think that's part of it, but not nearly all. I take the various characters in Dune who speak of humans being superior at thinking to machines as being a reflection of FH's thoughts on the subject (i.e. he had them say what he believed were correct statements). When it's said that humans can outperform machines, I don't think FH meant that humans could outperform machines in some ways, and machines could outperform humans in others. I think it means that humans can outperform machines, period. Any machine, at any task, if the human mind is used properly. This can, of course, include drugs to enhance human capabilities, but don't forget we're talking not only of 20,000 years of computer evolution but also 20,000 in the evolution of human training, breeding, and mind enhancing drugs. We can perhaps question whether this kind of claim is realistic given what we now know of machine processing power, but then again we know comparatively little of the brain and its potential. FH was making a prediction, not an evaluation of what we currently know, so it's possible he might turn out to be right or wrong.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby D Pope » 26 Dec 2015 11:58

    http://www.nics.tennessee.edu/leetaru

    http://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/f ... /3663/3040

    University of Illinois scientist uses advanced computing to study how global news media can forecast human behavior

    A range of advanced analysis techniques were used to produce a network 2.4 petabytes in size containing more than 10 billion people, places, things, and activities connected by over 100 trillion relationships—more data than any current computing system can handle. By leveraging advanced supercomputers like Nautilus, Leetaru is able to push the envelope of the “petascale humanities,” letting the machine find interesting patterns in the bulk of data. With patterns in hand, he then recreates them using a more traditional targeted and smaller-scale approach that others can follow.


    Arguably one of the most unexpected findings highlighted in Leetaru’s paper focuses on using news to map movement of a particular individual—in this case Osama bin Laden. Leetaru was able to estimate the militant leader’s hiding place as a 200-kilometer radius in Northern Pakistan, including Abbottabad where he was ultimately found.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby Naib » 29 Dec 2015 10:56

    That seems more like psychohistory.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby D Pope » 01 Jan 2016 22:01

    Naib wrote:That seems more like psychohistory.

    I posted because it seemed to me to be the precursor to the machines the mentats replace.
    Using a large, shared memory supercomputer called Nautilus, Leetaru has analyzed the tone
    and geographic dimensions of a 30-year archive of global news to produce real-time forecasts of
    human behavior such as national conflicts and the movement of specific individuals.
    Leto II is gone for good, except for OM. The "pearl" was just that; a miniscule portion of what Leto was, and not a compressed version of the whole. The pearl that the worms have do not make them Leto, or in any way similar to him.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby xcalibur » 10 Apr 2016 04:44

    there is a big difference in the capacities of the human mind and the computer. while computers outperform us in math/logic/decision trees/etc., humans are still much better at generalization, adaptation, creativity, and abstract thought.

    Frank Herbert may have been correct to emphasize this, but a future with no computers at all, and Mentats taking over those functions? It's important to keep in mind that FH wrote before the computer/information technology revolution. I sometimes wonder whether he would've created a different future for computers if he had been writing in the 90s.

    My opinion is that while something like Mentats could happen in an exotic future, I don't see the processing power of computers being replaced, especially when it comes to tedious calculations.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby georgiedenbro » 11 Apr 2016 13:55

    While I do tend to agree that FH may not have foreseen the types of computer innovation yet to come, I also think we're in a poor position to judge the comparison right now. So far AI only uses the type of linear processing that FH insinuated in the Dune series, and it's very clear his position is that we have not even come close to realizing the potential of the human mind. We're talking about 20,000-30,000 years of breeding and development of techniques, with fancy mind-altering drugs to go along with it. Just think about a mentat education for a moment. It isn't just a course in advanced logic, it's supposedly an entirely different way of using the brain's processing power, and the text in the stories wisely never makes an attempt to illustrate to us what that process is actually like.

    I suppose it's possible that FH was just 'wrong' about all this, but in any case his thesis isn't that our brains right now can outperform machines, but rather that the human brain (even the mere brain of the Baron) can be taken to the point where it can.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby Serkanner » 12 Apr 2016 18:17

    xcalibur wrote:... snip ...

    My opinion is that while something like Mentats could happen in an exotic future, I don't see the processing power of computers being replaced, especially when it comes to tedious calculations.


    As a mediocre chess player I have been following the development of chess engines for the last two decades or so. It was an astounding event when a computer defeated world champion Garry Kasparov ( whether that match was a "fair" contest I advice you to read up on it ). Since that event a lot of time has passed and computers are an inevitable tool for grandmaster chess players to train and prepare for matches. The interesting thing though is that chess engines continuously fail to understand parts of chess. As a result human chess players still manage to "see" better moves in a chess game than a computer. In other words: even raw tedious computing power doesn't not always trump human "instinct/talent". I think it is this "instinct/talent" that will continue to distinguish brains from silicon for a long time.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby georgiedenbro » 12 Apr 2016 21:03

    Serkanner wrote:
    xcalibur wrote:... snip ...
    The interesting thing though is that chess engines continuously fail to understand parts of chess. As a result human chess players still manage to "see" better moves in a chess game than a computer. In other words: even raw tedious computing power doesn't not always trump human "instinct/talent".


    I do not believe the 1997 Deeper Blue/Kasparov match was at all fair (bordering on cheating), and so I'd have been content at the time to agree that chess programs were at least coming close to the best humans alive. However things have changed since then and as of now humans of any level are basically no match for chess computers. Kasparov managed to draw out a series against Deep Junior in 2003 which was very good, and drew again in 2003 against Deep Fritz (he felt he outplayed the machine, though), but ever since then in man-machine matches the humans have been destroyed. It's actually gotten embarrassing, as you can see:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human%E2% ... .282009.29

    In this match the software has become so compact that even a cell phone app is beating grandmasters regularly. The app's elo performance in this tournament was ridiculous.

    That being said, I still agree with your general point about the advantages of the human brain. Plus, to be fair, we probably know a lot more about AI programming at this point than we do about wetware, which is far more sophisticated. Once we delve into that maybe we can begin advancing what our brains can do.
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby SadisticCynic » 13 Apr 2016 06:55

    So, none of you heard about the A.I. that plays Go?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlphaGo

    AlphaGo defeated one of the top players recently. What I understand is they had to use machine learning techniques that are very different from the traditional methods for A.I.

    Actually wish I knew more about the topic now. Might be time for some new reading to be done...
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby georgiedenbro » 13 Apr 2016 07:51

    SadisticCynic wrote:So, none of you heard about the A.I. that plays Go?
    AlphaGo defeated one of the top players recently. What I understand is they had to use machine learning techniques that are very different from the traditional methods for A.I.


    Basically what they did was to teach it the rules of the game and that's all, and then set it to run over and over eliminating bad results. Instead of programming it with advanced strategy they simply had it learn by trial and error which moves were more successful, so that over many iterations it developed its own strategy. Still linear processing but this time self-teaching. The first step towards the hunter-seeker extinction :o
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    Re: "You yourself, Baron, could outperform those machines..."

    Postby AnEhforanEh » 29 Sep 2016 03:55

    georgiedenbro wrote:
    SadisticCynic wrote:So, none of you heard about the A.I. that plays Go?
    AlphaGo defeated one of the top players recently. What I understand is they had to use machine learning techniques that are very different from the traditional methods for A.I.


    Basically what they did was to teach it the rules of the game and that's all, and then set it to run over and over eliminating bad results. Instead of programming it with advanced strategy they simply had it learn by trial and error which moves were more successful, so that over many iterations it developed its own strategy. Still linear processing but this time self-teaching. The first step towards the hunter-seeker extinction :o

    I'm predicting the failure of the singularity. No matter how well a computer can mimick a human, it will still just be a machine running code. And that is probably even scarier than self awareness.
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