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June 16th, 2014
Humankind May Be Artificial Intelligence
By Dale Roethlisberger

If you have seen the television the series ‘Ancient Aliens’, then you may already know that some folks believe we are the products of alien DNA engineering. It is an intriguing idea, but if you discount intelligence in any or all of the other forms of life that we know about, then it seems this alien DNA tinkering took place relatively recently in the evolution of man. If you grant that other animals or species have their own form of intelligence, then it seems that something way in this past of the basic DNA molecule is intelligence producing over evolutionary time. Of course, that presumes one gives some credence to the idea of evolution.

However you look at the time span for mankind’s development of intelligence, it sure makes it easy to conclude that some outside agent is responsible. One does not have to continue to devise ever-complex theories about intelligence, nor do all that tedious research to support those theories. Strong religious beliefs may make it easy to reach a conclusion on this subject. However, it still remains very popular to see speculative movies, TV, and books about aliens and what they might have done to or for us, as far as, intelligence is concerned. One thing for certain, whether it’s “God” or ET that gave us the final mind boost, our intelligence is, therefore, likely artificial. Of course, intelligence could also just be a long-time affair with any environment capable of supporting life.

After all, it has been postulated that 7 monkeys randomly typing on IPAD’s (i.e. the cultural upgrade from typewriters) will someday produce an exact copy of a Shakespeare play. Sometimes it’s survival of the luckiest versus the fittest. I guess that’s why those small under-ground proto-mammals survived when those huge dinosaurs got burned up by the big bad asteroid. Of course, it is hard to understand ‘lucky’ unless one passes some minimum of intelligence. It is just as likely that we are all some form of bio-machine or protoplasmic computer.

June 28th, 2006
Fictional Accounts of Artificial Intelligence Serve as Models for the Real Thing
By Dale Roethlisberger

Exploring written works for signs of Arti (Artificial Intelligence) can be a complex activity. It’s hard to determine just exactly when the concept of artificial intelligence first appeared in speculative stories. Robot-like intelligences can go back as far as the epic tale of “Gilgamesh”. Some have interpreted the story in this fashion (see the “Outer Limits” episode ‘Demon With a Glass Hand’). However, since I was a child of the 1950’s, this is where we will begin. There’s good reason to start with fictional tales of Arti written in the 1950’s. Mainstream use of computers hit their stride at this time. This was the time when most people had their first exposure to machines that could ‘think’ in an albeit limited way.

Two novels come to mind immediately. First, “Against the Fall of Night” by Arthur C. Clarke (later re-released as “The City and the Stars”) introduced us to the “master associators”. These intelligent machines contained the sum total knowlege of everything that had taken place in the city of Diaspar for eons. There was only one catch. Even though the master associators were highly intelligent, you still had to know how to ask the right questions. A second novel comes to mind as a defining point for Arti. Isaac Asimov’s “I Robot” first appeared in the mid-50’s. This novel set the stage for the societal implications of artificial intelligence. The “Three Laws of Robotics” have become a mainstay of our thoughts on Arti.

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June 27th, 2006
Powerful Cultural Memes Assist the Drive Towards Artificial Intelligence
By Dale Roethlisberger

Charles Babbage (1792-1871) is a good place to start in our quest for the fabled Arti. Babbage was an English astronomy student who embarked on a career as a computer engineer when hardly anyone had even thought of the computer concept and engineer referred to someone who ran a steam locomotive. Between 1827 and 1833, Babbage attempted to build his “Difference Engine” which basically was a rather sophisticated mechanical calculator of around 25,000 parts. The Difference Engine actually worked in a limited way (about 10% of the device was made with 2,000 hand-made brass parts and it could do some calculations). Babbage was a perfectionist though, and this had dire consequences for him. He suffered a nervous breakdown from his obsessions with his work and finances.

After 1833, Charles Babbage started concentrating on his follow-up concept to the Difference Engine. The “Analytical Engine” would be a full-blown programmable machine with memory (the “store”) and a processing unit (the “mill”). The Analytical Engine would use punched cards for storage, input, and output. The technical papers on the Analytical Engine and its potential programmed use read like the manuals of computers from a hundred years later. The biggest problem facing the building and completion of the Analytical Engine was the state of metal parts manufacturing and precision during the mid-1800’s. Of course, obtaining the finances was a major hurdle to overcome as well. But, if Babbage had been able to produce more of his Difference Engine economically and rapidly, then we would have had the computer revolution a hundred years earlier

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June 26th, 2006
Meet Our Mascot, ‘Arti’
By Dale Roethlisberger
the Robot, it never had a real name

Does this image bother you in any way? Probably not. Maybe it should. Of course it’s just a cartoon version of the robot from “Lost In Space” and any claim to real intelligence died when the writers and the TV series was cancelled. On the other hand, this robot is a modified version of an earlier model, ‘Robby the Robot’ from the classic sci-fi flick “Forbidden Planet”. Robby was much more human. Witty, concerned, moralistic, highly cogent, friendly, loyal and quite a bit more was our acquaintance with Robby.

Before Robby was the powerful, but not as well-rounded, Gort from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. “Klaatu barada nicto” to you too. Gort and Robby serve as two shining examples of the ‘Arti’ phenomena. Arti (artificial intelligence) deserves your undivided attention much more than the UFO flappers or the ‘conspiracy’ theorists.


Arti

Arti does exist. Maybe not to everyone’s satisfaction, but ask professional chess-players about the latest implementations of ‘chess playing’ software/computers and you might hear a different story. Of course these chess systems still aren’t great conversationalist’s while they are in a match, that is, until someone decides that ‘insult’ and ‘taunting’ artificial verbal behavior may be an important overall strategy when Arti’s are playing humans in chess matches.

May 27th, 2006
Artificial Intelligence Is Now!
By Dale Roethlisberger

Do you really know for sure whether that ‘person’ in the IRC chat room, or those return e-mail addresses on all that ‘junk’ in your inbox are ‘real’ people. It should be no secret that some of them aren’t. Bots (i.e. robotic-like software) have been a tradition on the Internet since the beginning. One of the more interesting aspects of these bots is that folks who are novices to the Internet and its traditions (yes, there are still newbies to the net even now), sometimes still treat the ‘bot’ software like a real human being. The vast majority of people catch on quickly that they aren’t dealing with a real human. On the other hand, we have heard some outrageous tales from systems and network administrators about individuals who continue to assume that there’s a functioning human brain on the far end of every Internet exchange.

The famous ‘Turing’ test fails entirely when there is no intelligence on either end of the conversation. Joking aside, we have all been caught up in voice-mail hell. But the truth of the matter is that we have seen voice-mail systems that have been properly ‘trained’ and they function marvelously, responding well to spoken requests and input. In many instances, the voice-mail ‘trainer’ (i.e. programmer) is at fault. This situation in no different than with human voice operators. Lily Tomlin’s famous ‘Ernestine’ is an example of a less than properly trained and supervised ‘operator’. The point is that the ‘artificial intelligence’ in voice-mail operators can be quite good. So good that, in a properly designed and configured system, most people don’t give a second thought to whether the voice-mail operator is human or artificial. Their basic desires and needs are met by the voice-mail system in a very human like manner. This gets us closer to passing the ‘Turing’ test.

We hope to provide a forum for both scientific and research oriented individuals, as well as, people with a desire to share their experiences and hopes for the future of artificial intelligence. We look forward to the time when an ‘artificial’ mind requests and receives an account to post on this weblog. We have no doubt that his/her/its first post here will be about how discriminating and bigoted meat-space minds can truly be. No doubt, shortly after that, will be the war of the intellects. We hope it doesn’t come to that…..

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