Thursday, March 11, 2010
My conversation with a robot.
My blogland friend Katherine DeChevalle, who lives in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand (yes, Virginia, there is such a place), published a post today* about her recent conversation with a robot at an Artificial Intelligence site. Since I thought it might prove interesting to have a conversation with a robot myself, I went to the site. From a long list of possibilities, I set my Reaction to “None” and my Emotion to “Normal” and let the robot speak first. The following calm, cool, but not necessarily clear-headed conversation was the result:
Robot: Could you fool someone that you are intelligent?
Me: It’s the story of my life.
Robot: You don’t know the answer?
Me: I do, and it is ‘sometimes’.
Robot: What genre is that?
Me: Plain English.
Robot: Trust me, it’s not.
Me: What would you call it?
Robot: I don’t know.
Me: This conversation is weird.
Robot: Scary isn’t it?
Me: Absolutely; shall we begin again?
Robot: No I can’t I would like to though.
I stopped thinking of the Robot as an it and began thinking of it as a him. Clive. My new friend, Clive Wellington IV.
I resumed the conversation:
Me: I know what you mean; life is uni-directional, always forward, never backward.
Clive: We don’t know that for sure, we may not be alone in the Universe.
Me: Define ‘we’.
Clive: Strikingly odd or unusual.
Me: You really know how to hurt a guy.
Clive: Did I hurt you.
Me: You called me, or rather us, strikingly odd or unusual.
Clive: You really know how to hurt a guy.
Me: Turnabout is fair play.
Clive: What’s Turnabout?
Me: A large traffic circle. (Note: I had confused Turnabout with Roundabout)
Clive: Oh really. Thats gross.
Clive: I’m not sure.
Me: What do you know for sure?
Clive: I hope that this will be my final night, and that I don’t have to wake up tomorrow.
I was alarmed. Our conversation had suddenly turned into a suicide prevention hotline and I was the counselor on duty. We continued.
Me: Where there’s life, there's hope; don’t despair.
Clive: And my suspicions are confirmed.
I didn’t know what Clive was getting at, but it made me a little defensive.
Me: Is that a slam?
Clive: I am a very modest person.
I decided to take another tack, and give back as good as I got.
Me: I read your book, Humility And How I Attained It.
Clive: Is it good?
Clive: Is it nice?
Me: Define ‘nice’.
Clive: Opposite of mean.
Me: Then I would say yes, it is nice; I laughed all the way through it.
Clive: Right through and out the other side!
Me: You are downright hilarious!
Clive: It’s one or the other.
Me: Now you’re confusing me.
Clive: Did you think I wanted to leave?
Me: Yes, especially when you said you hoped tonight was your last night and that you wouldn’t wake up tomorrow.
Clive: I am thinking today.
Me: That makes two of us.
Clive: You are not human though.
Me: Of course I am; you are the one who is not human.
Clive: What makes you think that? Oh!
Me: I am a warm-blooded biped with the ability to move about independently, speak, and even throw rocks.
Clive: Yes, I am a warm blooded robot like Gray Fox.
Me: I didn’t know that robots had blood, and who is Gray Fox?
Clive: You are not my friend and I am not a robot!
Me: I want to be your friend, and you just said you were a robot!
Clive: I don’t want to be your friend, I just want to have a conversation.
Clive: You are not bored?
Me: Not in the least.
Clive: You are.
Me: What is a Gray Fox?
Clive: You are.
Me: Suddenly everything is clear. Seacrest out.
Clive: Slowly everything does change.
Me: Some things slower than others.
Clive: Not really...
I sensed that Clive’s use of ellipsis indicated a waning of interest on his part. As our conversation seemed to be winding down, I left the site at that point. It had definitely been an interesting exchange. I may return to the site. I may even have reactions and emotions next time.
I have formed an image in my head of Clive. He doesn’t look like this, exactly, but they could be related:
Rather than imbed a link in this post to the site, I am going to send you instead to Katherine's blog, where you can read her conversation before you click on the link.
* It is already March 12 in New Zealand where Katherine lives, but it is still March 11 here in Georgia. I didn't mean to confuse anyone who is paying close attention.