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?



Be nice. It won't hurt either of us.

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