Stories tagged artificial_intelligence

Oct
18
2008

Computer mistaken for human

Elbot the chatbot: Click to chat with Elbot
Elbot the chatbot: Click to chat with ElbotCourtesy Artificial Solutions
Last week Elbot fooled three judges out of twelve into thinking it was a real human being. Elbot, an artificial intelligence program, has been developed over the last seven years by Artificial Solutions. Elbot is their most intelligent "chatbot" and has an enormous knowledge base. If you want to have a chat with Elbot, you can visit him at http://www.elbot.com/.

Best yet performance yet by an AI

Elbot won this year's Loebner Prize which goes to chatbot software most able to converse like a human. Each year an annual prize of $3000 and a bronze medal is awarded to the most human-like computer (the Loebner 2008 Rules can be found by clicking here). Dr. Hugh Loebner pledged a Grand Prize of $100,000 and a Gold Medal for the first computer to fool 30% of the judges (Elbot fooled 25%).

Source: New Scientist Tech

Sep
04
2008

Once more into the breach: We few, we happy few, we band of kitties; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my puss-puss.
Once more into the breach: We few, we happy few, we band of kitties; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my puss-puss.Courtesy o205billege

The general holds the binoculars up to his eyes and surveys the battlefield. This will be the first test of the new Coordinated Autonomic Tactical force—C.A.T. for short—an army of robot warriors with electronic brains as complex and powerful as a small mammal’s.

The exercise begins, and all goes exactly to plan. The mechanized warriors sweep across the terrain in formation. Faced with unexpected obstacles, they improvise their own solutions. Soon, they are overwhelming the enemy positions.

Suddenly, a squirrel darts across the field. The entire right flank breaks rank to pursue. Corporal Whiskers beings licking himself. Sergeant Buttercup and Lieutenant Muffy begin hissing at each other. Private Snookums climbs a tree and can’t get down.

The general lowers his binoculars. Staring off into the middle distance, he says to his second-in-command, “We may not have thought this through thoroughly.”

Apr
02
2008

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all      Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.: Or, as the poets say, "hubba-hubba."
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.: Or, as the poets say, "hubba-hubba."Courtesy beardenb

An Israeli student has written a computer program to recognize beauty. Human volunteers were asked to rate the attractiveness of several dozen photo portraits. The photos, along with their scores, were fed into the computer. The computer measured the faces and looked for commonalities between the ones rated most attractive.

The human subjects then rated another set of photos. The computer reviewed these, and compared them to what it had learned with the first set. It then rated the new photos. The computer’s ratings were very close to those provided by the humans.

The most impressive thing about this experiment is that the computer learned by itself. The programmers did not give the computer a definition of beauty. Rather, they let the machine figure it out for itself. This is considered a major step forward for artificial intelligence.

And if you’re wondering, average faces with no distinguishing characteristics are considered the most beautiful, both by humans and computers.

Jan
13
2008

So fragile, so vulnerable -- so what do you do?: How would you allocate funds to protect the Earth from disaster?
So fragile, so vulnerable -- so what do you do?: How would you allocate funds to protect the Earth from disaster?Courtesy NASA

The Lifeboat Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding solutions to global challenges, has an interesting poll on its blog. Let’s say you had an extra $100 million lying around, and you could spend it to protect the Earth and all its people from the following threats:

  • Deadly diseases
  • Global warming
  • Invasion from outer space
  • Abusive governments
  • Nanotechnology run amok
  • Nuclear holocaust
  • Asteroid collision
  • Intelligent computers run amok
  • Simulation shut down
  • Other

How would you distribute the $100 million? You might think all of these issues are important, but you’ve only got so much money. How would you spend it? (You can go to the Lifeboat blog and cast your vote, and see how other people have voted.)

Actually, a similar survey has already been run by Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg. He runs the Copenhagen Consensus, a program which invites world leaders to prioritize their efforts based on what actions would produce the greatest benefits. They found that every dollar spent on health issues, such as AIDS, malnutrition and malaria, produced up to $40 worth of benefits, while money spent on other worthy causes often generated much less.

As for me, I’d also put most of my money on deadly diseases – this is something we know is real. I’d probably also put a chunk on “other” for environmental protection – pollution, deforestation, species loss.

This is not to dismiss all of the other threats. I certainly worry about some crackpot getting a hold of nuclear weapons. But full-scale nuclear holocaust seems a lot less likely now than it did back during the Cold War. Abusive governments? A local problem, to be sure, but not one likely to threaten the planet and all life on it.

The others seem rather far-fetched to me. Global warming? My skepticism over the threat this poses is well-documented elsewhere on this blog, though certainly others disagree with me. Asteroid collision? Happens once every 100 million years or so; killer germs emerge once a generation. Invasion from outer space? Get real – if interstellar travel were possible, wouldn’t the space men be here by now? Nanotechnology turning everything into gray goo? A casual familiarity with nano shows that such fears are vastly overrated. Artificial intelligence ruling the world? They’ve been promising AI since the early ‘60s – I’m still waiting.

My favorite, though, is “Simulation shut down.” Basically, this means that nothing in this world is real – you, I, and everything on Earth are just part of a massive virtual game run on a gigantic computer operated by some intelligent being in another dimension, and we need to prevent him/her/it from turning the computer off. While this would certainly explain a few anomalies I’ve noticed in the Universe (I mean, come on, penguins?), epistemologically, there is no way we could possibly know whether or not this was true. And even if it was, how could our $100 million virtual dollars have any effect on the being running the program?

What about you? How would you spend a theoretical $100 million to save the Earth? Leave a note in the comments.

A computer program called CyberLover mimics the conversation of an on-line dating service chat room. The program fools users into divulging personal information, which can lead to identity theft -- and heartbreak.

Oct
14
2007

We couldn’t get the rights to a photo of Woody Allen as a robot in Sleeper, so instead here’s a picture of some cute baby ducks: Photo by Mattay from Flickr.com
We couldn’t get the rights to a photo of Woody Allen as a robot in Sleeper, so instead here’s a picture of some cute baby ducks: Photo by Mattay from Flickr.com

Researchers working on adding emotion to the artificial intelligence in computer games found that the most successful software was slightly neurotic, and could not be counted on to act rationally in all cases. The next best approach was the aggressive software, which won about as often as the neurotic ware, but took longer to do so.

Now, if only someone could invent a neurotic robot by the year 2173…

Brazillian and American anti-drug agents used advanced voice recognition software to identify a drug kingpin who had had his face disguised by plastic surgery.

Jul
26
2007

Talk to me, baby: Infants begin learning speech from their first month.  Photo by Torbein on flickr.com
Talk to me, baby: Infants begin learning speech from their first month. Photo by Torbein on flickr.com

No, not by crying and pooping, but by recognizing speech. Researchers in Chicago have written a computer program that learns language sounds the same way a baby does. Exposed to tape recorded speech in English and Japanese, the computer learned to recognize all the basic vowel sounds in the language at the same pace as a baby.

This supports the theory of categorical perception. The human brain, faced with an infinite variety of sensory information, reduces that complexity by grouping similar phenomena into a manageable number of categories. Research has shown that babies can distinguish subtle variations in spoken sounds but, by their first birthday, have figured out what sounds occur in their native language. Any other sounds are lumped together with whatever native sound is closest, thus reducing the aural universe to a few manageable chunks.

(Once established, these categories can persist throughout life. My girlfriend, born and raised in Indonesia, say “dee” instead of “the” – not because she can’t make the “th” sound (if asked, she can), but because there is no “th” in her native language. The closest they have is “d,” and so every English “th” is lumped into that category. My few pathetic attempts to speak Indonesian have generated similar issues in reverse, as I substitute the English sounds I know into foreign words that are actually pronounced slightly differently.)

The computer research indicates that the human brain can do something very complicated, like learn a language, from just a few simple rules. Specific instructions do not have to be hard-wired in. This has important ramifications for understanding human intelligence, as well as for creating artificial intelligence.

It does not, however, explain why teenage girls talk so much. (Shameless plug.)

IBM computer, Deep Blue defeats chess master Garry Kasparov on May 11, 1997. Read Wired interview with coder here.