Stoopid AI

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Most people think Artificial Intelligence (AI) looks like a robot, is smarter than a human, and only speaks the truth.

The entertainment industry would have us believe that AI systems are attractive Caucasian robots with minds of their own like Ava in Ex Machina and Sonny in I, Robot. And that they come in angry versions like the Terminator soldiers and shiny happy servants like C3PO in Star Wars.

ex-machina-2015-11With this connection to humanity, it’s funny that nobody talks about stupid AI.

Be certain, we’re going to have a world of stupid AI, some might be robotic, but regardless of form, their knowledge base will be tilted, biased or just plain wacked. Just like people.

Here’s how it goes down.

In the beginning there will be an AI platform, IBM Watson is a good example of a robust AI you can buy today. Off the shelf Watson knows nothing, not even math, and does nothing except learn. You need to teach it. You teach it by feeding it information.

What information? This is where stupid comes in.

Information, knowledge, and wisdom is very confusing when you try to add any amount of accuracy and reliability; it is downright head breaking when you try to subject it to truth. These are age-old philosophical issues dating to Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius and we still haven’t figured it out.

Many people believe a popular opinion is true, or if it comes from a certain source, it must be accurate. With some social issues, like Celebrity gossip, popularity does rule and proofs are difficult to come by. It gets harder when you contrast, for example, creationism vs. evolution in a literal interpretation vs. science discovery argument.

Let’s feed the AI with the body of knowledge (a corpus of information) built from the billions of words written in favor of creationism. Let’s also add billions of words that align with it and do not contradict it such as Evangelical teachings.

Then start asking this Cognitive Creationist AI some questions.

In the example case of using IBM Watson as the platform, you will get a “probabilistic” answer with 90% confidence that the world was created between 5,700 and 10,000 years ago. Part of the rationale supporting this is that according to Gallup survey’s, 47% of USA adults answered that “God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

Not to pick on religion as an easy target, but similar issues are pervasive in “sciences” particularly medicine and nutrition. The science around sugar and high fructose corn syrup has raged on for decades with study contradicting study. Same for medical issues around cholesterol and high blood pressure, their causes and treatment, using diet vs. pharmaceuticals are still subject to divergent facts.

Also in terms of medicine, countries around the world differ on what best practice treatment might be recommended, such as herbal over drugs, or acupuncture over surgery, so a medical AI in China could yield different answers that may or not be stupid.

While not technically stupid, note an AI could be trained with structured information to return biased answers; for example as a new form of paid endorsement and Branding awareness. The answer to “the best, most popular, favorite, cool, great” thing can be taught and also associated with certain other answers and attributes.

  • AI, where is a popular beach destination in January?
  • Answer: The Cancun-brand resort is popular and has a special offer that includes Airline-brand discounts and Branded meal vouchers.
  •  AI, I need more calcium in my diet.
  • Answer: milk is popular but Brand name cheese is more tasty.

With apologies to Forrest Gump, “stupid is what stupid teaches.” Let’s hope we humans are able to ultimately find Intelligence of the non-artificial kind first.

Or maybe my AI will negotiate with your AI for a true fact.

Ask me anything. Click to read more about AI and branding.

Larry Smith