The best checkers player in the world is now a computer program, which will never again lose a game. Chinook was designed just to play checkers but wound up solving the game with a database of every possible move combination.
Many would suggest that checkers and chess programs (which now are the best chess players in the world) are not a reasonable metaphor for human intellect but I disagree. This type of program, *factually speaking*, is a vastly superior form of intellect in these limited game realms.
Our human abilities have evolved over millions of years to branch out in far more than a single direction and that is impressive. It’s also fairly clear that these chess and checker programs are not “conscious” despite the fact that they are better than we are at the games. However I don’t think it’s reasonable at all to assume that there is something “extra” that makes human intellect and consciousness unattainable for a mechanism. On the contrary we are *defective* thinkers compared to machines doing comparable things. Even a simple Wal Mart calculator can “outthink” the best mathematician in the world in most forms of mathematical problem solving.
As we start blending the power of our organic computing devices (aka brains) with mechanical computing devices I expect a more rational, resource optimized world where economic and environmental balances are met. A world filled with happy, glowing faces and prosperity for all. Yes, really I do!