Artificial Intelligence/Organic Wisdom

Being a science fiction writer, and a science geek, and doing lots of research for my new book, I have lots of fingers in all sorts of pies. One of which is the Medium newsletter.

A little while back the published this lovely, clickbait-y titled article – Did Google Duplex just pass the Turing Test?

First up, some extremely basic definitions …

… an extremely basic description of Google Duplex: a software program that enables a conversation between humans and computers … and an extremely basic description of the Turing Test: One person listens to two others having a conversation, one of which is a computer. If the listener can’t tell which ‘voice’ is the computer, the computer passes the Turing Test, and gets a nice little certificate welcoming it to the Sentient Species of the Galaxy Club (I made that last little bit up. It’s more of a loose confederation of species whose last name starts with the letter ‘B’)

The movie, ‘Her’ was also referenced in the article, as an example of true A.I., but, and here’s the clincher about that little movie, (which if you’re into ‘robot as lovers’-type movies, is a great one to watch) once the program had achieved true sophont-hood, it, and all the other programs, chose to bugger off, probably into some alternate quantum reality, leaving their humans behind to wilt in their individual existential crises. Let’s face it, what healthy adult wants to hang around being their parent’s slave? (Same goes for the film Ex Machina)

Anyway, the answer to Medium’s headline question is – No. At this point Duplex is just a nifty scheduling program.

However, it sent me off in some interesting directions about how would you actually create/build/program an entity that you could actually call an Artificial Intelligence? … and even more importantly, why would you want to?

There’s the weaponized, oh excuse me, the ‘reasoned arsenalization’ option of course – to make more efficient killing machines, but leaving that not-insignificant kettle of kittens aside, I can’t really think of any usage for an artificially constructed intelligent being, that can’t be covered more efficiently and effectively by the good old homo sapiens 1.0. in conjunction with the technology available.

(To be clear, I’m not talking about advanced programs that can mimic certain human interactions, I’m talking about an actual evolved consciousness that is not organic)

Why are the techies pushing this ‘AI-for-everything-which-isn’t-really-AI-anyway’? 1 – because they can, (which has been the rationale for every tyrant since Gilgamesh decided he just had to be immortal) …and 2 – for the data they can mine, which translates into, you guessed it, money’. (which is exactly the same reason the media, social and otherwise, is pushing it too)

It’s not like we need AI for space (inner, outer, etc) exploration either. The vehicles and programs we have now, and are developing at a great rate of knots, are quite sufficient unto the day, and let’s be honest here, humans don’t like, or want, to give over final control of even the most basic of exploration vehicles.

So, why is it so important to colonize the human potential of our evolution, as a species, with an artificial construct? (we’ve barely tapped our potential as it is) Or, is being human just too hard to bear in these ‘interesting times’, and rather than resolve those conflicts, we bypass them altogether?

I don’t know the answers… well I do know for me personally, but I wonder what our species as a whole will choose.


One last thing that’s a bit disturbing about the Google Duplex experiment is that the human it was ‘talking’ to, had no idea she was being manipulated by a machine. Therein lies a slippery slope on the avalanche path of ‘consent’ which taken to a not-too-out-there extreme can lead to violations of the Nuremberg Code. (because humans have never resorted to extreme methods to get what they want, now have they?)

Here’s a mundane example of ‘slippery slope’ consent that starts off innocuous … … our truck has an indicator that monitors the speed limit of every road we travel on and what speed we may be going at any given time. That information is accessible to whomsoever has the inclination and sufficient motivation to mine it. (legally or otherwise) The truck also has a back-up camera that refuses to allow the truck to get any closer to a predetermined object than a predetermined distance. (We had no choice with either of these two ‘functions’, they came as ‘standard’)

The rationale is that these two function limitations, and a whole bunch that I’m sure we’ll never even know about, are designated as ‘safety’ (or ‘value added’) features. (not because of anything we might do, never that, we’re assured, but what they, the ‘others’ might do that would endanger us) Perhaps they are, and we may have even considered such features, but that’s not the point. We had no choice, our consent was not considered nor asked for.


21 comments on “Artificial Intelligence/Organic Wisdom

  1. jenanita01 says:

    Interesting post, Widds… if a tad bone-chilling!
    The main reason scientists want to create the perfect humanoid machine is two-fold.
    First, they want to impress the world with their brilliance, and secondly, having something else to blame when it all goes pear-shaped will be very handy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ian Hutson says:

    The biggest lack-of-consent that I can see (in our small Human world) is being born into a society and infrastructure that I had not a single whisper of a say in “designing”. Father left the room, Mother looked out of the window towards the second-smallest lake, coughed politely and I dropped to the floor – immediately under a blanket of laws, taxation and social mores already in place.

    On a more detailed note, I damned-near wrote off my brother’s new car once (while using it to visit him in hospital, not possessinng a vee-hickle myself). In a busy town I had to pull out into a small gap across one lane of traffic and turn abruptly at ninety-degrees into the second lane, right next to railings that separated the contra-flow of traffic. I saw my gap, accelerated to make the turn – and the car “saw” the railings ahead, slammed the brakes on all by itself and left me parked neatly at right angles across both lanes… the oncoming traffic was not happy. Nor was I.

    To add joy to my effervescence, it being a car of an “eco” bent, it then took itself out of gear and turned off the engine, the better not to pollute the town (or perhaps the better to kill me).

    Give me cars of the seventies, eighties and even nineties any day. As for society? Well, the one that “we” “have” is also not my preference!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Widdershins says:

      That is truly terrifying! … did you manage to extricate yourself, without further ado?
      I reckon these ‘smart’ systems are designed for cars that traverse 10-lane freeways only and are driven by imbeciles who wouldn’t know a reverse park if it bit them on the arse.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ian Hutson says:

        The car left me sitting there across the traffic, all of which stopped in time – but which was far from happy with me. In the confines of tiny England it was – it ought to have been – such a mundane manoeuvre, because we’re not exactly replete with open space here, every drive is through a maze of signs, walls, railings, traffic lights and obstructions!

        With the example of cars perhaps just as worrying as these control systems is that stuff such as brakes and steering are no longer physically connected anymore – all electric, and under the wing of the car’s cpu – and it’s progamming. Twirl the wheel as much as you like, if the cpu decides it’s not going to bother with you at that moment, your wheels won’t turn, the brake valves won’t open – or your wheels may steer their own route, the brakes may never release.

        Cars are just the visible example, the same process and “design” must surely be in place in other systems from aeroplanes to banks. Speaking of which, as someone whose boat home travels around the country, my bank already looks for a geographical pattern to my use of my debit card as well as for a pattern in what I am buying and from whom.

        Big Sister already lives, she’s just in the “toddler” age at the moment – Greek and Roman gods help us when she grows up, connects the dots and gets the vote…

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Our world is already way too Smart for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Olga Godim says:

    When a machine has features that can’t be turned off, it’s always very inconvenient. There should be a possibility to turn those ‘safety’ features off.
    As for AI – I’m not sure it is truly possible. I was a programmer for many years, and I can tell you: any program is only as clever as the programmer who wrote it. And some programmers are idiots. Maybe if you could filter out the idiot programmers from the pool writing the AI… But how? Idiots camouflage so very well. No job interview could ever pinpoint them. As long as they could code, they are accepted in every software company. In every human activity, actually. No?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Widdershins says:

      If you read Ian’s comment, he tells of an horrific tale of just how wrong those ‘intuitive’ features can get. Scary stuff.
      I agree about true AI, not possible without some exponentially huge technological leap forward … which is probably another reason why the current wave of programs are being touted as, at the very least, ‘AI adjacent’ … it’s as good as they’re going to get in our lifetime, probably. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sue Vincent says:

    I already object to cars whose windscreen wipers decide when they need to come on without any input from me. I’m happy for technology to advance and be at our service… but it is already open to too much underhand abuse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Widdershins says:

      I didn’t know about windscreen wipers … that’s something to look forward to, I suppose.
      The more I dug into this issue the more it came home to me just how deep our lack of choices, in so much of our every-day life goes.
      Mrs Widds decided she’s going to become a ‘classic car’ enthusiast, and build her own car that is purely mechanical! 😀


  6. “Smart” stuff is another way to control people, I think, to jump high and jump off the cliff.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. kiraninprogress says:

    Very Interesting and Informative post! Enjoyed reading every single bit! I was wondering if you could checkout my new piece on ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE & JOBS OF THE PAST!And I would really appreciate it if you could comment some feedback to improve the writing style. Looking forward to hearing from you. – Kiran

    Liked by 2 people

    • Widdershins says:

      Hi Kiran 🙂 … welcome to my little corner of the interwebz. I did leave a comment on your post, which I loved reading by-the-way.
      The thing about writing style is that apart from some grammar-in-common, everyone’s writing style, or ‘voice’ is different, and writing a blog is the best way to find out what yours is.
      I liked what you had to say and the way you said it. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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