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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"Why do you watch that junk?" my mother asked, 47 years ago.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Inc. magazine:

...A.I. can evolve in ways that are invisible to us. In other words, we don't necessarily have any idea why a program or a device powered by A.I. is doing what it's doing, because its decisions and actions go far beyond what it was told to do.

That's exactly what Facebook's bots did in a way that so spooked engineers they shut them down.

The bots, which were used to conduct dialogs in a chat with humans, were trained to communicate with humans and with each other in English. Yes, the bots actually talk to each other to collaborate in solving problems faster by creating new rules.

However, in a turn of events nobody had anticipated, the bots suddenly started to communicate with each other in their own language--a language they made up on the fly and entirely on their own.

The science fiction-like scenarios this conjures up are right out of an episode of Star Trek, but this wasn't a Hollywood script that was being played out. It was a real world example of A.I. evolving faster than its human creators could keep pace with.

To call the A.I. bots deceptive, or to imply that the bots had human-like intentions, may certainly be stretching it, but at the very least they were finding tools to deal with their environment that no human could comprehend.

It's ironic that all of this happened so closely on the heels of the well publicized debate between Musk and Zuckerberg about the risks of A.I. But it does shed light on how quickly A.I. can extend beyond our reach to control or comprehend it.

It's also poetic to consider that while Turing may be the father of modern computing, he is also known for a quote that may prove to be much more prescient: "A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human."

Were we just deceived?

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