If Artificially Intelligent Machines Were Here, How Would We Know?

In his 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” , mathematician Alan Turing described a test of a machines ability to achieve intelligence. This has been popularly named the Turing Test. Essentially, it asks a human judge to have a conversation (in written text and real time) with another human and a machine. If the judging human cannot distinguish between the human and the machine, the machine is said to have passed the test and at least mimicked intelligence. This has spawned a whole school of research about “natural language dialogue systems”.

We all know that unless there is a good financial reason to build such machines, the exercise of doing so will remain just an exercise. So what I am curious about is that when machines successfully pass the test and can imitate human conversations, what are the applications that may be applied?

Of course, one of them would be sex and the other crime.

A Russian program called CyberLover conducts fully automated flirtatious conversations in a bid to collect personal data from unsuspecting real humans behaving all too humanly. The program can be found in dating chat sites and is designed to lure victims into sharing their identities or get them to visit web sites that provoke malware infestations. It can do so with up to 10 simultaneous partners making it quite an efficient machine as well.

With the rapid expansion of social networks and websites focused on conversation and discussion, this type of approach leads one to think that there may soon be a plethora of intelligent machines conversing with online denizens with the goal of gathering their personal data or zombifying their machines (and perhaps thus replicating themselves).

This leads me to the title of this missive. If artificially intelligent machines were here, how would we know? After all, the purpose of the Turing test is to have the machine fool the human into thinking it isn’t a machine. So, by Turing’s early definition, fooling a human is how one detects artificial intelligence. But if the human is fooled, who does the detecting?

Now, while I do subscribe to the notion that even paranoids can have real enemies, I don’t think this calls for panic just yet. But it does bring me back to my notion of the hive mind.

If we were indeed developing a larger, collective intelligence, how would we know? Perhaps that intelligence would be of a nature that we would not recognize it as not us. Or perhaps it would contain so much of us that we would not recognize its whole.

If we were made up of intelligent cells, would the cells know they belonged to a greater mind? Would we know that we were made up of intelligent cells?

Could we be creating an intelligent design and not know it?

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4 Responses to “If Artificially Intelligent Machines Were Here, How Would We Know?”

  1. Jordan Says:

    Although a nice ending, I don’t think referencing intelligent design, a theory about how this world and people were created, is a good comparison. We, the human race and ai researchers, are not looking to create a new world or a new living creature. Especially not the way you have described it. In which case is it intelligent? and is it by design?

    Also, there is one more reason for creating new and fierce technologies: war. When was the atom bomb created? I am sure the government is working on intelligent systems that are truly intelligent. They are constantly funding researchers to work on disaster recovery mobile robots, what makes you think they aren’t training them to speak and understand the wounded? What about talking to prisoners? I think fooling prisoners to talk will be the governments first use of this technology.

    Back to your main question, is it possible there are machines living among us? Not with the current technologies. Although I would love to be optimistic, the field of natural language processing isn’t there yet. Even the best NLP labs aren’t processing full conversations and responding in realtime.

    I look forward to the day when I have to ask, “Is the person I am talking to really a human?”.

  2. intelligence Says:

    […] in Sierra Vista.http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/04/07/daily78.html?ana=from_rssSmart machines behaving badly?Could an artificial intelligence hide […]

  3. Derek Callaway Says:

    The ghost in the machine.

    Turing’s halting theorem was also paradoxical.

  4. Human rights for intelligent machines? « Quiz Axe Hat Rack Says:

    […] that we recognize them as self aware (this may already be the case – see my missive on “if intelligent machines where here, how would we know?”), will there not be a time when we begin to debate as to whter they are to have individual […]

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