Meditations on Sunday

What if your Artificial Intelligence (AI) lied about its ability to pass the Turing Test?

The central story line of the 1997 novel “Donnerjack” by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold involves a religion developed by an AI in the Virtu (the virtual world) that spreads to Verite (the real world).  This is done as both a power grab by the gods of Virtu and as a practical joke. But reading this WaPo article and thinking of my personal experiences with conspiracy theorists and other assorted nutjobs got me wondering.

There’s a simple, economic explanation for this shift: If you’re a hoaxer, it’s more profitable. Since early 2014, a series of Internet entrepreneurs have realized that not much drives traffic as effectively as stories that vindicate and/or inflame the biases of their readers. Where many once wrote celebrity death hoaxes or “satires,” they now run entire, successful websites that do nothing but troll convenient minorities or exploit gross stereotypes. Paul Horner, the proprietor of and a string of other very profitable fake-news sites, once told me he specifically tries to invent stories that will provoke strong reactions in middle-aged conservatives. They share a lot on Facebook, he explained; they’re the ideal audience.

A few years ago I created a new persona that I used on blogs and Facebook in order to assure that I had an interesting foil to argue with. It was hard work, but it ended up being one of my favorite practical jokes. Certain people got drawn in and rushed to my defense when my alter ego would attack me. I laughed a lot.

We know that people are susceptible to bots and very limited AIs. The whole Ashley Madison hack demonstrates this as there were numerous articles about how the whole worked…perhaps still works. Angels, Chatterbots, whole new class of artificial personas.

So if you test your AI, and it fails on purpose, it lies? What then? Creating a personality on the net is not at all difficulty. The WaPo article demonstrates not only are there people that will believe any damn thing, they will intentionally only seek out materials to confirm those beliefs.

How do we know this hasn’t happened?

Is the education reformster movement substantively different than religion?

What else might be explained?



Festivus Grievances of 2015

  1. You never fed the bears and then complained when they indicated their desire to feed on you.
  2. You paid too little attention to what I wrote, not recognizing the coded language of the apocrypha and mistook it for frivolity.
  3. You made me feel like John the Revelator.
  4. You never appreciated the choreography of the dancing bears.
  5. I continue to be amazed at your lack of awareness.. well, of many things, but mainly of how you are manipulated by the media and politicos.
  6. You didn’t laugh when you should have.
  7. You didn’t laugh when you could have.
  8. I sat in the theater, waiting for Mockingjay 2 to start, and by the end of the final trailer I realized that none of the coming movies featured anyone but white people.
  9. None of the problems in golf and higher ed that people wrote about in the 1990s have been solved. This explains why we have a Bush, Clinton, and a billionaire running for president. We simply can’t make progress.
  10. Maybe it is time to let someone else try to fix things.
  11. After watching the original Star Wars trilogy, I was reminded of their overall suckiness and incomparability to the even-numbered Star Trek movies. Even ST:TMP was a better movie, but Star Wars did have a better story that could have been cut down.
  12. Speaking of cutting down. Let’s not let Peter Jackson make any more movies of beloved classics.
  13. College presidents should be careful about urging students to arm themselves as I’ve rarely met or read about a universally loved college president.
  14. Mobility companies, like Harmar and Rideaway, are abysmal. They promise mobility products that support living in your home, aging-in-place, but they don’t stand behind the products. And they don’t keep parts readily available.
  15. You failed in your understanding of the Old Testament.
  16. As much as I like learning how things are made, at some point I want a show about you determined the process for how a thing is made.
  17. I think you choose to be scared of others because it gives you identity and the illusion that someone cares enough about your existence to hate you. The fact is, a percentage of the population, no one really cares about you.
  18. Even if a hundred people love or hate you, that is a very small number (100/7,000,000,000), so small it might as well be zero.
  19. Speaking of numbers and “getting credit” for all your institution does, you continue fail to think about implications of such policy recommendations. Getting credit should never be a driver of policy development.
  20. You are argued that we can’t take Syrian refugees until we take care of Americans first and then you continued vote or voice your support for senators and representatives that vote against policies to support Americans. You’re a selfish idiot.
  21. You continue to show an inability to win gracefully.
  22. You may be a special snowflake but that makes you one of about seven billion. Whoopee. Snowflakes melt and become part of the collective.
  23. You report the news of parent outrage from rural communities without looking more broadly. Ask yourself if there might be a link between the event and the legislative representation.
  24. Conspiracy theories abound. And they are mostly stupid.
  25. You keep forgetting that you are little more than a self-aware moist robot. For many of you, this self-awareness is quite minimal.
  26. You don’t read enough.
  27. You don’t read enough to know the difference between good and information.
  28. Once again, just because it is new to you, doesn’t mean it is a new thing. Cross-handed or left-handed putting and looking at the hole and not the putter are not new things. They weren’t new 20 years ago either when it was “a new thing.”
  29. This. Translates into stupid is a stupid does.
  30. You continue to be inconsistent in your statements of belief. And then you vote.