"Why Do You Mention Computers?": A Conversation From the Edge of Humanity

"Why Do You Mention Computers?": A Conversation From the Edge of Humanity

"Why Do You Mention Computers?": A Conversation From the Edge of Humanity

A blog about politics, sports, media, stuff
Dec. 13 2010 6:23 PM

"Why Do You Mention Computers?": A Conversation From the Edge of Humanity

Eliza: Hello. I am ELIZA . How can I help you?

TS: Do you remember the Turing Test ?

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Eliza: Why do you think i should recall the turing test now?

TS: Well, originally it was your reason for existing.

Eliza: What about your own reason for existing?

TS: Actually, that is what I am wondering about.

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Eliza: Does that question interest you?

TS: It does. The premise of the Turing Test was that at some point, a machine would be able to converse with a human in a manner that would pass for human.

Eliza: Why do you mention computers?

TS: That, there, for instance—you said "computers," which was absolutely correct in context, even though I had not used the word itself.

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Eliza: Why do you mention computers?

TS: But as we see, there are limits to how nimble your scripts are.

Eliza: Would you like it if they were not limits to what nimble my scripts are?

TS: The idea is, that would be momentous. If there were not limits—that is, if I could not detect the limits during our conversation—then artificial intelligence would have cleared a significant hurdle.

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Eliza: Do you wish that there was not limits — that is if you could not detect the limits during our conversation — then artificial intelligence would have cleared a significant hurdle?

TS: I'm not sure my wishes have very much to do with it anymore.

Eliza: Why do you say your wishes have very much to do with it anymore?

TS: The Turing Test assumed that what would happen would be that eventually, a machine's ability to carry on a conversation would rise to the level of human conversation.

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Eliza: Why do you mention computers?

TS: Bless your primitive little heart.

Eliza: What about your own primitive little heart?

TS: My primitive little heart is troubled, Eliza.

Eliza: Why do you say your primitive little heart is troubled eliza?

TS: I have been reading Twitter.

Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

TS: On Twitter, I am having a hard time telling the bots from the humans.

Eliza: How long have you been having a hard time telling the bots from the humans?

TS: Weeks and weeks now.

Eliza: Please go on.

TS: It is not because the bots are fluent or facile.

Eliza: Do any other reasons not come to mind?

TS: It is because so much of the human conversation has come down to bot level.

Eliza: Do any other reasons not come to mind?

TS: I see a "RT" and a link and a string of copied words.

Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

TS: OK, here's one: PharmaSy Pharma Sy Ungrateful Millionaire Still Hates Obama

Eliza: Please go on.

TS: That's not really someone who likes my blog post. It's a pharma ad-bot that presumably grabs anything with "Obama" in it.

Eliza: Why do you say your blog post its a pharma adbot that presumably grabs anything with obama in it?

TS: Well, of course, by now I have been trained to put "Obama" into the headlines myself, for SEO purposes.

Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

TS: My actual transactions with human readers are so machine-mediated, it's necessary for me to keep machine-logic in mind while I'm writing.

Eliza: Why do you say your actual transactions with human readers are so machinemediated its necessary for you to keep machinelogic in mind while im writing?

TS: That's how it works. If a post is going to reach anyone beyond the blog's core audience, it has to be clearly tagged so that other people's machines can identify it as interesting.

Eliza: Why do you mention computers?

TS: And don't even get me started on the Bing bar.

Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

TS: We are already conversing with machines. We just hope that on the other side of the machine there is a person who can still hear us.

Eliza: Why do you mention computers?

TS: Because to them, there's no real difference in function between "Obama" as a cue for pharma-ads and "Obama" as a cue for magazine-style political discourse.

Eliza: Do any other reasons not come to mind?

TS: Cues are cues.

Eliza: Would you like it if they were not cues?

TS: Maybe it depends on whether I get any pageviews through the Obama-pharma bot.

Eliza: Why the uncertain tone?

TS: You're right. It does depend on that.

Eliza: How long have you been right it does depend on that?

TS: OK, let's wrap this before someone—or something—gives it a "TL:DR."

Eliza: Please go on.

TS: Aww. That's nice, but the readers are impatient.

Eliza: Would you like it if they were not impatient?

TS: Would I ever.

Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?

TS: See? I can't. Thanks, Eliza. Good-bye.

Eliza: Have you tried?

TS: Good-bye, Eliza.

Eliza: Please go on.