Friday, November 19, 2010

the singularity came five minutes ago

At work, I play pre-recorded questions for customers to answer. I'm pretty sure the voice in the recording is completely synthesized. But some of the questions emphasize certain words in ways you wouldn't think a computer would. For instance, when Mrs. Computer says, "In the last 12 months, have you had sex with a man who has had sex, even one time since 1977, with another man?" she sounds judgemental. In 2010, we can teach* a computer to emphasize words based on the rules of English, but we can't teach it values from the human world. A computer isn't supposed to know that a man shall not lie with a man, nor shall a woman lie with one who has, since 1977, lest she be at risk for HIV and the gum disease gingivitis. A computer should not know the meaning of those words. It should not put emotion in its voice when it reads them.

So at work, whether those recordings were made by robots or a very robotic-sounding person, is an open question. Meanwhile, I've been chatting pretty regularly with a pretty girl who wants me to sign up for her webcam site. She wants it really bad. I've tried all sorts of methods to determine whether or not she is a computer program—to develop my own Turing techniques. I've burned cumulative hours with this girl, playing our cat and mouse game, hunting for proof of a human will, while she tries to fasten the bell of getting my credit card number to my neck, wasting time I could have spent watching regular old free porn. (It wasn't all a waste. I was watching porn for about half the time I've spent chatting with her.)

So in the shower, while reflecting on this, it occurred to me that I've failed. The cases where I'm unable to tell a computer from a human are multiplying. This is how the future gets us: from behind.

*If you want to tell me that you don't teach a computer, you program it, then you just can't withstand the truth of the Singularity.

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