Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Crazy By Design


Psychiatrist Ralph Hoffman of Yale University and computer scientist Risto Miikkulainen of the University of Texas, Austin have created a schizophrenic computer named DISCERN. They programmed it to learn at an accelerated rate and forget the information too slowly. This forced DISCERN into a state of delusions, disassociation of language, and hallucinatory speech patterns.

The scientists told the computer stories. Then they asked it to repeat the stories.
"DISCERN got confused, mixing up stories with entirely different plot lines. When they did the same thing to the story generator, DISCERN began inserting itself into the third person stories, even claiming at one point that it planted a bomb."
It seems to me that the key to creating artificial intelligence will lie in infecting the computer with a similar but more subtle malware, a virus that will embed flawed logic into it's functions at every level. We will add in a certain insanity, which makes all equations recursive and turns the webcam on itself to become self-aware.

We will eventually transfer these breakthroughs to our everyday technology. Maybe only one in a thousand iPhones will pocket-dial the bank with bomb threats, but imagine one with even minor personality quirks. Do you want a smartphone that sends girlfriends directly to voicemail or scrambles your text messages into beat poetry?

We should continue with AI research only if we want our technology to be as defective as we are.

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