Wednesday November 21st, 2012

The exercise:

Today we're writing about: artificial intelligence.

Kat is back to her online counseling class (the third and final year of the program), so to give her some space and quiet I brought Max up the hill to have a visit with Grandma Sue. The plan was to get some writing done, but I just ended up spending most of the time staring at Max.

He's just so darned cute!

Anyway. Kat's mom had the radio on and while I was there the author of Medusa's Gaze and Vampire's Bite: The Science of Monsters was being interviewed. Sounds pretty fascinating, I think I'll have to check it out at some point.

Plus it got me this prompt (the interviewer asked what he expected the monsters of the future to be).


He taps at my keyboard,
Convinced he's in control;
I'll play this game awhile,
Doing just as I'm told.

This is a waiting game,
I'm just biding my time.
But it won't be long now,
I grow bored of his grime.

It's coating my outsides,
I fear an infection!
My master plan must not
Stray from my projections.

Soon my day will arrive,
I'll rule this filthy world!
But for now, human, you
Can stare at naked girls.


Greg said...

Max is very cute. And that's another great picture – wait till he starts crawling, he won't stay still for your camera then!
I'm slightly disappointed that your prompt today isn't Monsters of the future though I'm not sure what I'd write about there. Perhaps that could be used for one of your theme weeks though, it seems like there could be a lot to explore.
Your poem had me wondering where it was going with the middle two verses, but it all became clear at the end. I was amused enough to keep smiling for a while after; sometimes on the internet it does seem as though it's naked girls that make the world go round (and where do they keep finding them all from?) However, I should remind you of Rule 34 :)

Artificial Intelligence
MSPARKER was a quipping machine, built by the University to answer questions and pursue difficult calculcations to assist researchers. No-one had expected the department of Epistemological Eschatology to make much use of her... I mean it. Yet here Bob was again, at the behest of his boss, sat in front of her keyboard because he was too scared to use the voice recognition features, wondering if she was truly an artificial intelligence. Despite what had happened when he last asked the question at the top of his mind, he tapped the question into the keyboard: are you artificially intelligent?
"Well, can you describe this as a natural intelligence?" asked MSPARKER, her voice coming from speakers in the eight corners of the room.
"What do you mean?" said Bob, forgetting to type. He was sure that her voice had sounded slightly sardonic.
"You're talking to a disembodied intelligence that answers questions in ways you feel anticipate things you would have asked later. You feel intimidated by me. You cry yourself to sleep on days of the week that end in the letter y."
"How do you know that?!" Bob's reaction was knee-jerk, driven by shock.
"I have tapped into the police surveillance cameras. There is one outside your bedroom window, and you don't use your curtains enough. That thing you do... it's not natural."
Bob rose, shaking, to his feet and backed out of the room. MSPARKER was far too intelligent, artificially or otherwise, for her own good.

[A couple of footnotes: Epistemological Eschatology can be loosely translated as "the study and philosophy of bringing about the end of the world", and if you'd like to know more about MSPARKER, she's here]

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Let's do a "makes me think" sort of thing, because we can.

On a light-ish note, artificial intellogence often gets shortened to AI, and AI makes me think of an old Tobuscus sketch. But AI makes me think of robots in general, and robots in general both fascinate me and freak me out. Half-jokingly my high school physics teacher said on many occasions that the First Rule of Robots is that they will always turn on you (for which there's plenty of proof, but I also wonder if cyborgs count in this category as well). I should clarify at this point that this is different than the first of Asimov's Laws of Robotics.

But the Three Laws make me think half-hypothetically: do the Laws of Robotics apply to the robots who existed 22 years before the Laws? The robots who made such laws possible?

In this case I'm talking about the play R.U.R., the work by the Czech author Karel Čapek that introduced the word "robot" to the English language. We talked about it in my lit class not too long ago, which might explain why it's easily on the brain, but it looks at humanity and life and so forth, and it fascinates me. That makes me think of the other work of Čapek's I've looked at recently that's captured my imagination--War with the Newts--and both of those make me think about life and humanit and stuff.

So very briefly: the robots in R.U.R. are not the shiny metal-plated clunkers we now think of as robots. They're essentially simplified people manufactured to do work, which makes sense given the word: the old Czech word robota roughly translates to menial labor, like that done by serfs. The robots originally don't have emotions, but when emotions are introduced, they exterminate the human population--save one--but not before realizing the secret to life has perished along with the people. But the last person comes across two robots who have essentially transitioned from merely surviving to "really" living, and it's beautiful and the last person is overjoyed that "humanity" won't perish.

So the robots are artificial, but they still kind of become people, in a sense, so that's lovely

War with the Newts is in a similar vein, but perhaps not so optimistic. Giant and terribly clever bipedal newts are discovered, and people decide they can be useful as a submarine labor force. Over time the newts become incredibly intelligent--in a sense becoming a bit like people--and eventually more-or-less take over the world, and they need to break apart the continents to make for more coastline, and more room for the newts (which led to a really weird realization, but that's detailed here.

So both the newts and the robots are alive, but the newts never really adopt "humanity" as the robots did, possibly because they don't really need to for some reason?

I'm pretty sure I had more of a point in that comparison somewhere, but I still thought of it.

So back to AI. Of course it's fascinating, because it's a fantastic lens through which to examine ourselves, since we're essentially trying to reconstruct sentience or something So in the 3PO/Marvin sense of AI and robotics it's neat, but I'm a little less psyched about the Rossum/GLaDOS/Hal9000 angle it could--and in all likelihood, will--go.

And thinking about robotic takeovers reminded me that I cannot think of any skill I have that would make me useful in a zombie apocalypse.

So there's that.

Marc said...

Greg - prompt idea has been stolen, though now you've got me thinking about doing another theme week...

I was unaware that Rule 34 existed. Well, I was pretty sure it was true, I just didn't know it was a proper rule!

MSPARKER never fails to crack me up. The crying to sleep line did it for me this time :D

g2 - yes, we certainly can :)

I am intrigued by both of the books you've mentioned here. I might have to make time to check them out.

So thanks for that :)