Artificial Stupidity

A film reviewer notes that “even retards learn to mimic head movements of conversation, but ask them something specific and they go blank.” I am no great authority on what this writer so uncharitably calls “retards”, but it strikes me that the comment should have a far wider application. That is, much human conversation can be characterised as mimicry, without any true directing intelligence. This is particularly true of pastime or ritual conversation, which is the dominant form among both the young and the old. When teenagers discuss what is cool and what is not, or old people tell one another how much better things used to be, there is no real exchange of information, merely reinforcement of identity markers. Both exchanges could very probably be modelled in a few lines of Basic. And, as in the above quote, if one asks them something outside their terribly limited repertoires, they do indeed go blank. Braincrash; it is clear that they cannot process the input, or possibly any input that is unexpected.

Perhaps the key error of researchers into artificial intelligence is that they have endeavoured to replicate the output of adult, rational beings with something to say, not unlike their good selves. But most human speech is nothing like this. A computer that fails the Turing Test in dialogue with an experimenter ought to be capable of a pitch-perfect imitation of the average fashionable sixteen-year-old girl or the average querulous pensioner on the bus.

The creation of artificial intelligence ought not be modelled on the behaviour of human beings at all, but start from first principles, for example evolutionary selection acting on random variation in coding of programs, resulting in propagation of the successful. As we have evolved from amoebae, an AI could thus evolve from spambots. Alternatively, perhaps a new discipline of Artificial Stupidity might tell us something useful about ourselves.

Posted on January 3, 2014 at 21:48 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, The Anatomy Of Stupidity

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