新编英语教程第一册Unit14

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Unit 14

DIALOGUE I

Two Kinds of Brain

A: This is the age of electronic invention. Every day you see fancy gadgets entering our lives... all kinds of electronic gadgets that were beyond our imagination. Everybody carries electronic gadgets of some kind.
B: Yes, there're electronic gadgets for family use, for office work, for entertainment, and those that are said to be able to do the work of the human brain.
A: You're talking about computers that are equipped with microchips. But you don't seem to like electronic brains.
B: Let me put it this way: I'm not bothered by new inventions that will work for us, but I do worry about the kind of machines which will think for us.
A: I don't think you need to worry about losing the human brain to a microchip.
B: I'm really scared about the rapid development of computer technology. Believe me, it won't be long before there'll be no difference between a human brain and an electronic brain.
A: I don't agree with you. As a matter of fact, the human brain is the most complicated thing for its size. It weighs three pounds, but in that three pounds there're ten billion neurons and a hundred billion smaller cells. These brain cells are interconnected in such a complicated way that we can't begin to explain it as yet.
B: But an advanced computer can think like humans now, can't it?
A: That depends on what you mean by "thinking". If solving a mathematical problem is "thinking", then a computer can "think" and work so much faster than a human being. But remember that computers are programmed by human brains to solve problems. They can only do what we have programmed them to do.
B: But isn't it true that human beings also can only do what they are programmed to do? We're programmed by our genes, you know.
A: Our gene program is so complex that it enables us to think creatively, and it brings about our creativity in language, literature, art, science and technology. In this sense, computers certainly can't think the way we think.
B: I'm not sure that I'm convinced. If a computer could be made complex enough, it could be creative too.
A: Let me elaborate on what I've said. A major difference between a human brain and a computer can be expressed in a single word: COMPLEXITY. Even the most complicated computer mankind has yet built can't compare in complexity with the human brain. You know, the computer switch is just an on-off device, whereas the human brain cell possesses a very, very complex inner structure.
B: But electronic technology will continue to develop, at a much faster rate. Perhaps it won't be very long before we have a computer complex enough to match the human brain. What I'm concerned about is that mankind is not only creating an electronic servant, but also a threatening rival. The day will come when we are out of luck and unable to keep computers under our control. We may get beaten, then.
A: I'm afraid your worry is groundless. The logic of my argument is this: as long as computers are created by human beings, they'll never be the equal of human brain or do all that a human brain is capable of doing.


DIALOGUE II

Dialogue:
The spring semester has begun at Pujiang University, but the English teacher Mrs. Parker has not returned yet. Liu Laoshi, the class teacher, received a letter from Mrs. Parker during the holiday, and now he tells the class what Mrs. Parker said.
L: Mrs. Parker hasn't come back yet, but she sent me a letter last week, so I can tell you what she did in the first two weeks of her holiday.
S: Did she have a good time?
L: Yes, she said that she arrived safely, but she said that the journey was terrible, and she almost missed her flight.
S: Did she tell you what the weather was like?
L: Yes, she said the weather was awful. There was lots of rain, but she was lucky enough to go skiing.
S: If it was raining all the time, how did she manage to go skiing?
L: Well, there is a range of mountains not far from where she stayed. She wanted to know if it was snowy in the mountains, and she wondered if the conditions were good enough for skiing, so she telephoned the ski-resort and asked if the weather was good. They told her that there was very little snow...
S: So, what happened...
L: Well, that evening she was watching television and they announced on the weather report that snow was likely within the next two days. She decided to go skiing after all next morning, and when she arrived in the mountains, there had been a heavy snowfall and the conditions were perfect.
S: Did she send us a message?
L: Yes, she wanted to know if all the students were back from their winter vacation. She also asked me if I would say hello to you all.


READING I

SERVANTS OF THE FUTURE

How soon will it be before robots become so intelligent that they will be able to do jobs which at the moment only human beings can do, such as teaching languages or looking after patients in hospital? Some experts believe this will happen within twenty years while others disagree.
One London company, UAS (Universal Automated Systems) has already developed machines that can be used as "home-helps" for old people unable to look after themselves and who are living on their own or in special homes. These machines can now do such things as cook eggs and clean the floor, and the company says that future models will accept simple voice instructions and be controlled by a "brain" that is the equivalent of the latest IBM microcomputer. The director of UAS, Mr. Henry Jeffries, believes that in the next five to ten years companies will have developed even more sophisticated robots for use in industry. By this time, it is likely that they will also have begun to sell new forms of these machines into ordinary homes. Robots could do a wide range of household tasks, such as preparing meals, washing dishes, cleaning the house and so on. By then, the price of such machines may have come down to as little as $ 1,000.
But Dr. Sandra Lomax, who has done research into artificial intelligence at Sussex University and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) believes we have a long way to go before we can develop truly intelligent machines.
"Preparing an omelette may seem easy enough. But suppose one of the eggs has gone bad. Even the most 'intelligent' robot would probably still use it. If something slightly unusual needs doing — something that requires even a little bit of ordinary human imagination, a robot is useless. They need programming for even the simplest of tasks and are incapable of learning from experience. And teaching a robot how to recognize a bad egg is far more difficult than teaching it to prepare the omelette the egg goes into," she says.
Unit 14 DIALOGUE I Two Kinds of Brain A: This is the age of electronic invention. Every day you see fancy gadgets entering our lives... all kinds of electronic gadgets that were beyond our imagination. Everybody carries electronic gadgets of some kind. B: Yes, there're electronic gadgets for family use, for office work, for entertainment, and those that are said to be able to do the work of the human brain. A: You're talking about computers that are equipped with microchips. But you don't seem to like electronic brains. B: Let me put it this way: I'm not bothered by new inventions that will work for us, but I do worry about the kind of machines which will think for us. A: I don't think you need to worry about losing the human brain to a microchip. B: I'm really scared about the rapid development of computer technology. Believe me, it won't be long before there'll be no difference between a human brain and an electronic brain. A: I don't agree with you. As a matter of fact, the human brain is the most complicated thing for its size. It weighs three pounds, but in that three pounds there're ten billion neurons and a hundred billion smaller cells. These brain cells are interconnected in such a complicated way that we can't begin to explain it as yet. B: But an advanced computer can think like humans now, can't it? A: That depends on what you mean by "thinking". If solving a mathematical problem is "thinking", then a computer can "think" and work so much faster than a human being. But remember that computers are programmed by human brains to solve problems. They can only do what we have programmed them to do. B: But isn't it true that human beings also can only do what they are programmed to do? We're programmed by our genes, you know. A: Our gene program is so complex that it enables us to think creatively, and it brings about our creativity in language, literature, art, science and technology. In this sense, computers certainly can't think the way we think. B: I'm not sure that I'm convinced. If a computer could be made complex enough, it could be creative too. A: Let me elaborate on what I've said. A major difference between a human brain and a computer can be expressed in a single word: COMPLEXITY. Even the most complicated computer mankind has yet built can't compare in complexity with the human brain. You know, the computer switch is just an on-off device, whereas the human brain cell possesses a very, very complex inner structure. B: But electronic technology will continue to develop, at a much faster rate. Perhaps it won't be very long before we have a computer complex enough to match the human brain. What I'm concerned about is that mankind is not only creating an electronic servant, but also a threatening rival. The day will come when we are out of luck and unable to keep computers under our control. We may get beaten, then. A: I'm afraid your worry is groundless. The logic of my argument is this: as long as computers are created by human beings, they'll never be the equal of human brain or do all that a human brain is capable of doing. DIALOGUE II Dialogue: The spring semester has begun at Pujiang University, but the English teacher Mrs. Parker has not returned yet. Liu Laoshi, the class teacher, received a letter from Mrs. Parker during the holiday, and now he tells the class what Mrs. Parker said. L: Mrs. Parker hasn't come back yet, but she sent me a letter last week, so I can tell you what she did in the first two weeks of her holiday. S: Did she have a good time? L: Yes, she said that she arrived safely, but she said that the journey was terrible, and she almost missed her flight. S: Did she tell you what the weather was like? L: Yes, she said the weather was awful. There was lots of rain, but she was lucky enough to go skiing. S: If it was raining all the time, how did she manage to go skiing? L: Well, there is a range of mountains not far from where she stayed. She wanted to know if it was snowy in the mountains, and she wondered if the conditions were good enough for skiing, so she telephoned the ski-resort and asked if the weather was good. They told her that there was very little snow... S: So, what happened... L: Well, that evening she was watching television and they announced on the weather report that snow was likely within the next two days. She decided to go skiing after all next morning, and when she arrived in the mountains, there had been a heavy snowfall and the conditions were perfect. S: Did she send us a message? L: Yes, she wanted to know if all the students were back from their winter vacation. She also asked me if I would say hello to you all. READING I SERVANTS OF THE FUTURE How soon will it be before robots become so intelligent that they will be able to do jobs which at the moment only human beings can do, such as teaching languages or looking after patients in hospital? Some experts believe this will happen within twenty years while others disagree. One London company, UAS (Universal Automated Systems) has already developed machines that can be used as "home-helps" for old people unable to look after themselves and who are living on their own or in special homes. These machines can now do such things as cook eggs and clean the floor, and the company says that future models will accept simple voice instructions and be controlled by a "brain" that is the equivalent of the latest IBM microcomputer. The director of UAS, Mr. Henry Jeffries, believes that in the next five to ten years companies will have developed even more sophisticated robots for use in industry. By this time, it is likely that they will also have begun to sell new forms of these machines into ordinary homes. Robots could do a wide range of household tasks, such as preparing meals, washing dishes, cleaning the house and so on. By then, the price of such machines may have come down to as little as $ 1,000. But Dr. Sandra Lomax, who has done research into artificial intelligence at Sussex University and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) believes we have a long way to go before we can develop truly intelligent machines. "Preparing an omelette may seem easy enough. But suppose one of the eggs has gone bad. Even the most 'intelligent' robot would probably still use it. If something slightly unusual needs doing — something that requires even a little bit of ordinary human imagination, a robot is useless. They need programming for even the simplest of tasks and are incapable of learning from experience. And teaching a robot how to recognize a bad egg is far more difficult than teaching it to prepare the omelette the egg goes into," she says.
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