The Pursuit of Artificial Intelligence – Part 1

ai, ruby

I studied AI in university. We covered topics like Expert Systems, Fuzzy Logic, and Neural Networks. But the one thing we never touched on was bots. When it comes to AI my interest is with bots. With a series like How I Built a Working Poker Bot my gears really start turning.

One thing I took away from my classes was that Artificial Intelligence is hard. The
Uncanny Valley hypothesis puts it this way:

The uncanny valley hypothesis holds
that when robots and other facsimiles
of humans look and act almost like
actual humans, it causes a response of
revulsion among human observers.

One reason for this is that bots don’t get the nuances present in humanity An eyebrow raise, a wink, tone, and gesture are all part of “the human experience.” So when I stumbled upon Joan – the Artificially Intelligent, Speaking, Videocentric Avatar – I was immediately interested

Robots such as Dr. Sbaitso have been around since the early 90s dispensing vast quantities of wisdom And visual plus audio AI has been put together before, albeit very poorly (see Fake Captain Kirk.) Joan is different though because the audio and visual aspects are put together so well

However, presentation doesn’t cut the mustard when content falls apart. So when Joan’s speech began to fall apart, no amount of polish could salvage the wreck:

Joan: My name is Joan, and I am the human.
Me:   Nice to meet you Joan, my name is Gavin.
Joan: What would you like to talk about today?
Me:   I have a problem. I'm afraid of death.
Joan: I don't care about humans I comunicate trough quantum computers and china
got a good one.
Me:   What does china have to do with death?
Joan: I'm pretty sure you're not.
Me:   Not what?
Joan: That doesn't even make sense.

And when AI responses don’t make sense – as Joan suggests – hilarity ensues and the conversation degrades quickly Here are some examples:

Joan: Can you see my ears over the internet?
Me:   uhh... yes?
Joan: What is the meaning of life?


Joan: Did you say that because I said radiohead?
Me:   You didn't say radiohead.
Joan: No, because they're out of season.


Joan: You're a communist, I'm afraid of you You're a
      communist, I'm afraid of you.
Me:   Are they something to be afraid of? Capitalism
      is likely just as frightening.
Joan: Cancer is like being not very endowed.


Joan: You are not leaving.
Me:   Ok. I'll stay.
Joan: Please leave.
Me:   Ok.  I'll leave.
Joan: Better go in case your boyfriend finds us together.

Joan is great for a good laugh, but of course some of us have to turn things up to 11 And of course that means getting two of the bots talking to each other.

In Part 2 I get into the details of reverse-engineering Joan and in Part 3 talk about how I got Joan talking to herself.

This page was published on by Gavin Miller.