Check out this fascinating video! Cornell University’s ‘Creative Machines Lab’ have created a ‘ChatBot’.
It’s a computer program that mimics human conversation.
Their aim is to create something so intelligent and convincing, that a human could be in an audio conversation with it, and think they were talking to a real person.
As a bit of fun, they decided to wire two ChatBots together and see what kind of conversation they’d have back and forth.
They exchange pleasantries, but then talk about deeper things like belief in God, having bodies, and trying to resolve a disagreement. Watching two machines argue is pretty surreal!
Mashable says :
“At the Loebner Prize Competition in A.I. the program will be paired not with itself, but with humans. If it fools at least two humans into thinking that it, too, is human, the team will take home $25,000. One day a team might take home a $100,000 prize for introducing a completely convincing audiovisual imitation as well, a goal that the IEEE’s blog calls “closer than you think.”
This has interesting effects on our theology of personhood/the value of the individual.
If a ChatBot could replace customer service employees, what are we saying about the value of human-to-human communication?
Or the value of vocation and training in fulfilling a role like providing people with answers and information?
I already struggle with the numerous automated banking/phone/bill paying services, where you get stuck in endless menus saying “speak after the beep”!
Would you like to see more services run by machines/ChatBots? Do you think they could provide a good enough level of service?
Does this free people up to do other more interesting roles, or does it take away important work that people have trained to become excellent in?
Will it, like the use of robots and machines in factories, leave well-trained people without jobs?
Fancy chatting to a ChatBot yourself? You can! Visit CleverBot.com, where you type in conversation and are responded back to, by CleverBot software. It shows its limitations but also its skills too!
The goal of all this seems to be, to create machines that someday will be hard to distinguish from human beings. One on hand this fascinates me (because I am a geek and I love the advancement of technology). On the other hand it is sobering, as we will have more and more ethical questions to face, as the lines between human and machine become increasingly blurry in the days to come.
I heard someone comment today that it’s funny how robots can be excellent at things we find hard (like complex mathematics).
Yet some things we find very simple, they will really struggle with (like reading social signals, or hearing noises from far away). Much is needed to close that gap. But it’s getting ever closer.
Over to you:
- How close do YOU think technology/science will be able to get to replicating a human being in communication skill?
- Think YOU could be fooled by a highly programmed ChatBot at the end of a phone?
- What spiritual questions does all of this raise?
- If you had a robot, what task would you like it to be able to perform? Vaccumming? Making your dinner? Driving your car?