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…..