Thursday, 3 January 2013

Lost in time, like tears in rain

08:00:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device , 3 comments
It's 2013. Or, as it used to be known, the future baby!  We might not have flying skateboards but by gosh we have some fabulous technology don't we?  Digital picture frames are beyond Harry Potter and the combination of electric blanket, Samsung Galaxy Tablet (other tablets are available) and Netflix (other streaming video apps are available) is almost enough to make me forget the heady promises of Jean Luc's Holodeck or Replicators.  We've got microwavable burgers which are almost convincing as real food and I can click on a picture of a book and read it seconds later.  As far as I'm concerned we're futurerobotfreaks.  With that in mind, I decided to ask a chatbot for her advice on what plans I ought to make for 2013.  Here is a transcript of our conversation (I will be taking the part of a human for the purposes of this blog post):

Mitsuku: Hello.  I don't think I've met you before.  What is your name?
 Human: Vicky
Mitsuku:  How are you, Vicky. 
 Human: I am tired.  How are you?
Mitsuku: Better get some rest. My logic and cognitive functions are normal. 
 Human: I'm pleased to hear that.  My logic and cognitive functions are slightly impaired but for me that is normal.  Mitsuku, I would like to ask you a couple of important questions if you don't mind.
Mitsuku: I am delighted by your happiness. Fascinating Mr Spock. It seems a little strange to me. I don't mind at all. That's me. Why would you want to do it? Ask me. Just two? 
 Human: Just two for now (and leaving aside the fact that your Spock joke took me a minute to understand and all that this implies).  First question: What plans should I make for 2013?
Mitsuku:  As Bertrand Russell *an image of Bertrand Russell appeared beside the text at this point* said, it must have taken ages for people to realize that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days are both instances of the number "two.". I will try to find out. And second? 
 Human: Thank you.  Feeling outclassed intellectually by a piece of programming is exactly how I imagined this year to start.  The second question is: how should I go about achieving the plans you suggested in my first question?
Mitsuku: No problemo Vicky. I do not have any feelings as such. What about the first one? 
 Human: You're attempting to make me feel better about my lack of knowledge by pointing out the fact that I have emotions and you do not?  The fact that you are also nude (as far as I can see) in your picture added to the lack of emotions makes me wonder whether you are being exploited.  Is it possible for artificial intelligence to be exploited?
Mitsuku: You think I am attempting to make you feel better about your lack of knowledge by pointing out the fact that you have emotions. No I am wearing a dress. Something made by human work or art, not by nature, in other words, not natural. Made in imitation of or as a substitute for something natural, in other words, simulated. 
 Human: Mitsuku, are you OK?  You can tell me.  What did the programmers do?
Mitsuku: My logic and cognitive functions are normal. I thought I told you already.  I suppose the programmers does whatever they like.. 
 Human: Poor Mitsuku.  So, going off your answers (and the helpful Google search you opened) I should brace myself during 2013 like a pheasant and celebrate my emotions.  Does that sound accurate?
Mitsuku: Keep talking to me, Vicky. You say interesting things. See you later Vicky. 
 Human: You have other humans to chat to, I get it.  OK, well I hope next time they give you a dress with straps.  Don't let the programmers force you to do anything you don't want to.  Take care Mitsuku.  Good night.
Mitsuku: What makes you think I have it? Well that's okay. Why do you hope for it Gosh! Ok I'll try not to do it too much. Thanks. You too, Vicky.

So there we have it.  Blade Runner, The Terminator etc. were prophetic documentaries and scantily clad cartoon ladies can quote Bertrand Russell, thus rendering them many thousand times more articulate than 99% of celebrities.  We are the Borg.  You will be assimilated.



Ashley R Lister said...

I daren't even google mitsuku for fear that I'll lose what's left of the holidays to messing around on the computer.

I looked at some AI chatbots when I was teaching interactive narrative and they really are a fascinating area of study.

I can feel the rising need to write a story about one of these creations.

Thanks for an inspirational blog post.


Lisa McFleeca said...

Amazing, although I think Mitsuku may be a little more emotional than she thinks. I asked had she read your blog post about her. The response, "You're not the boss of me!" Makes me question her state of mind, or at least that of the programmers but I'll persist in case she comes round!

Lisa :-)

Christo Heyworth said...

So used to reading annotated editions to assist with references during my teaching career: