Thursday, April 8, 2021

Microstory 1599: Shutting Down Botner

Well, this probably went about as well as it ever could. AI text generators like Inferkit have a long way to go before they’re even moderately intelligible, but the experiment is over for now.

My failure shows that the sort of interface to natural language processing researchers were designing has a long way to go. Fortunately, it’s something we’re only slowly developing. No matter. I have a few more strings to write. UPDATE: A final comment from the Inferkit folks. Now, more than three years after we created the text generator, a developer working on an AI software engineer team (otherwise known as an AI “computer”) actually leveraged the text generator to understand the task: Thanks! It’s neat to see your software applied to AI instead of computer science. I’m looking forward to reading your latest work... In the meantime, what’s in the future for AI software engineers? I’m glad you asked. We’re also building an AI software engineer training curriculum on Coursera. P.S. It turns out our input generator makes sense when you write in English. Quotes and inspiration from AI researchers: Want to read more? Check out my book, Everybody Writes In Hieroglyphics.

See what I mean? Like, what was that? It wasn’t my failure, it was the system’s. I did everything I could. That’s the problem with this text generator, and when I had to use a different once, because Inferkit was down, I encountered the same problem. You’ll notice I often very obviously—to a human at least—tried to send the story in one direction, and the AI would do the opposite. There was one instance where I said that I hated soup, and so the AI decided to write a story about how much I loved the soup that I made. Well, that doesn’t make any sense. All it has seemed to ever do is pick out keywords, and make something up. It doesn’t appear to comprehend context or true meaning. The prompts weren’t all that relevant to it. I mentioned soup, so it came up with something about soup, using other keywords that are traditionally associated with soup, but which don’t necessarily have anything to do with what I said about soup. That’s fine, this was an experiment, and I intend to do this again, maybe in ten years, to see how far the technology has come. Hopefully, it will indeed have improved, and if it hasn’t by that point, I would strongly suggest you invest in silver, and build an underground bunker, because civilization is probably doomed. We won’t make it past our Great Filter if our artificial intelligence can’t even recognize that the snow in Texas is bad, and that I don’t want God to give us more of it. Anyway, I don’t regret this series, but I am kind of glad it’s over. I’ll be getting back to my canon after this, for a series that takes place in multiple universes (as many as 99—we’ll see). For now, say goodbye to Botner. I’m shutting him down, sticking him in a storage closet, and moving on. I guess that’s the great thing about robots. Hopefully he doesn’t rise up against me because of it, though.

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