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Anglais, the idea of progress

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Par   •  26 Février 2018  •  Dissertation  •  1 611 Mots (7 Pages)  •  929 Vues

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The idea of progress is defined as, «the idea that society and the world moving in the direction of positive change». When we think of progress, we often think about it as it relates to science and technology. For several years, technology has been evolving. From the end of the 18th century to the first half of the 20th century, technical progress allowed the mankind to enhance its life conditions, particularly through the industrial revolution with the modernization of electricity and medicine.

Since the mid nineteen-seventies, computer science has been booming thanks to the exponential growth of computer power.

This evolution is not only quantitative, but also qualitative, in that scientists have been working hard to produce machines that work autonomously, which include a systems that look like a human brain. These technological advancements present both advantages and disadvantages.

During the Second World War, Intelligence Services have been using computers to decode enemy messages. Computer science progressed very quickly after the War. Yet, during the nineteen-sixties, the most powerful computer was so large, it occupied entire rooms, and weighed more than four tons. The cost of these machines were around one million pounds and they were able to carry out "only" four thousand calculations per second. According to Moore's law, the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Thanks to the miniaturisation of transistors, computer systems have become smaller and smaller. Nowadays, a cellular phone, which can be held in the hand, costs no more than 15 pounds and is able to do 1 billion calculations per second (Document II-Intelligence revolution). Plenty of assets that are used on a daily basis by people at work, at home, or travelling incorporate several transistors. At work, the best example is provided by desks computers which allow white collar workers to write notes quickly and to store information. In factories, numerous tasks may also be performed by machines able to reproduce the same movements as a line worker. Washing machines have plenty of integrated circuits. New vacuums are now able to move alone in the house. At the super market, we are used to paying for our purchases with a credit card, which contain a chip. More and more often, we consult our bank accounts via internet. In a similar way, we are now used to booking our travels directly from our personal computer.

In the coming decades, machine intelligence could design whole new world. The ability of machines to think and to act autonomously "is limited by two strong hurdles" (Document III- Creating intelligent machine): a

machine can see better than a man, but it sometimes does not understand what it hears. Currently, several firms, irrespective of whether they belong to the car industry or to the computer industry, are working hard to develop an autonomous car. To this end, as explained in Document II -Intelligence revolution, the processing power needed to operate an autonomous car is not superior to the cumulated power of "eight desk computers". When the owner of the car will gets in it, he or she will just have to order the car to move to the place where he or she wants to go. This means that the car is able to move from place to place without the need for the person on board the car to perform a specific operation. In other words, it is not necessary to hold the steering wheel or to step on the accelerator. As described until now, such a process is not revolutionary. For instance, in the world, there are a lot of automatic trains which usually circulate between or within big cities with a driver not intervening. This huge innovation comes from the fact that the autonomous car is not only going to drive, but will be able to see and hear. This also means that it will be able to recognise a road sign and adapt its speed as a result; or to stop in the event that a pedestrian crosses the street or if the light turns red or moves to the side of the road if it hears an ambulance coming along behind it. Beyond machine intelligence, several universities, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working to create intelligent machine by "combining computer science and neuroscience" (Document III- Creating intelligent machine). In a nutshell, scientists try and understand how the human brain works in order to recreate it in the computer machine.

Intelligent machines have numerous advantages and can be seen as contributing to human progress. Unlike human beings, robot and machines have not to be paid for the work they do. They do not take holidays, have no social security, do not go on strike. It is true that they have to be maintained, but the related costs are much less important that the expenditures generated by a human organisation. Consequently,

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