A recent BBC article raised the question ‘Why do we love the drama of man versus machine?‘ The author posits that it is about the assertion of humanity against the odds, think Terminator or Matrix.
I have a slightly different interest, which was part of what I wanted to explore in Sea of Dreams. What I find fascinating about these conflicts is the confrontation with something else, something alien. Deep Blue is interesting for the fact that it does not move the chess pieces in the same way as Gary Kasparov. The process of analysing the game, devising and executing a strategy is so different as to be almost incomprehensible. Humans cannot run through the number of calculations and scenarios a computer can in a millionth of a second. At the same time, a computer cannot execute a decision in the same way a brain can.
People versus machines…
It is more a question of people versus themselves. We see the limits, and the possibilities, of ourselves in confronting the machines. In large part, these stories have the same appeal as any alien story, science fiction or otherwise. It shines a light on who we are and who we could be.