The Bloomfield Science Museum presents CAPTCHA: the computer as a philosophical mirror for humans.
The electronic computer was invented seventy years ago, and has already pushed its way into every aspect of our lives to the point where we forget to ask ourselves what the meaning of this amazing device is, what is the scientific basis for it, and how does it affect scientific thought in the present and future. Alan Turing, the British mathematician who foresaw the computer already in 1936, did ask these questions, and understood then, at a time before there were computers, that the computer will serve as a mirror with which we can examine the essence of the brain and our consciousness. This philosophical breakthrough places computer science at the front of modern science, and allows computer science to deal with challenging and fascinating problems.
The CAPTCHA exhibit examines central questions at the basis of computer science, including:
*What are the limits of computers' abilities, and what will it never be able to compute?
*Will the computer surpass us in its wisdom, and will it ever reach a level of consciousness similar to ours?
*Can a computer be creative?
*What does all of this say about us and our thoughts?
Alongside the theoretical questions, computer scientists deal with developing applications that have a powerful influence on our lives, for example:
*powerful coding which enable commerce and banking on the internet
*new research tools in all areas of human knowledge
*world-wide communication webs which have changed the face of society, politics, and relationships
*medical systems which save lives daily
Israel is an important center in the research and development of all of these, and the exhibit presents the Israeli achievements in these field.
The Man who dreamed of thinking machines:
All throughout the exhibit you'll encounter the footsteps of Alan Turing. A philosopher and technologist, mathematician and code breaker, thinker and doer, the exhibit follows the life's work of the man who, in his short life, wet down the foundations of computer science. Turing was a groundbreaking scientist who did not merit the recognition he deserved while he lived. Now, one hundred years after his birth, visitors will have a chance to learn more about the man and his contribution to our world today, and in the future.
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, very much like online human verification, where webpages ask users to type in letters and numbers to verify that they are human, and not an automated program attempting to use a service without authorization (see the example below).
All images courtesy of the Bloomfield Science Museum.
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