Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Aha ... so, that is what it means to be human!

Even two days ago I wrote in this post:
In so many different ways, as many posts would have revealed, I am trying my best to understand what it means to be human, and what my place is in this universe whose vastness I cannot even begin to imagine
I had no idea that the answer would come so soon.

So, what does it mean to be human?
What makes us human? Our innate curiosity? Our mastery of language? Or is it our astounding ability to be complete assholes to one another?
I bet you are thinking, "WTF!"  Yes?


That is from the same blog that enriched your life and mine with a wonderfully colorful word, "piss-proud.  Remember that?  Holy shit, you have forgotten that already? ;)

"[Our] astounding ability to be complete assholes to one another" is, according to that awesome post on "artificial belligerence," where we humans outsmart the machines.  So, this is a wonderful combination: we begin to understand what it is to be human and we also figure out ways in which we can beat the shit out of our computer overlords.  If they shit, that is! ;)
slang and swearing have proven tricky for artificial intelligence and natural language processing researchers to implement on a machine. Although curse words make up only 0.5% to 0.7% of all of the words we speak, they are rich in nuance and play a variety of roles. Said IBM research scientist Eric Brown, “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is.”
Aha!  A new twist to that asshole theory.

BTW, speaking of assholes, a friend had posted this on Facebook:


Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah:
In 2011 Brown’s team tried to train Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson to use more natural-sounding vocabulary by feeding it the entirety of Urban Dictionary. The result was a foul-mouthed machine that learned terms such as “ass hat” and “front butt” but didn’t understand when it was appropriate to use them, once responding to a researcher’s query with “bullshit!” Watson’s failure to distinguish between profanity and polite language meant that Brown’s team had to develop filters to screen out the profanity and eventually ended up wiping Urban Dictionary’s entries from Watson’s memory.
See, we have some time left before those machines can begin to cuss like us humans.
When it comes to language, especially the pragmatics of strong language, artificial intelligence hasn’t caught up with humans yet. But with so many AI researchers attacking the problem from different angles, a future with realistic potty-mouthed sass-bots that can verbally spar with the best (worst?) of us may not be that far away.
Sometime in the near future, a HAL won't be polite; remember HAL's polite aggression with "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that"?  In the future, it might even use Dick Cheney's language and say "Go fuck yourself, Dave."  Laugh now, but that day is coming ;)

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