“For Training Purposes”

Just another idea of a certain new sci-fi that potentially goes straight into the production hell.

I’m not needlessly cautious on this subject matter, I hope. Still, be aware of the intentional cynicism.

Most of us may be familiar with this statement, ‘For training and quality purposes, your call may be recorded.” Among other similar statements seen pretty much everywhere: the licenses you accept from cloud photo storage providers, the terms hidden deep in the corners of search results, and so on.

As I have been fortunate to see, said training has long been not limited to members of our species. By journal issue, by week, and by day, more and more data from us gets is fed into algorithms, artificial intelligence, to better themselves to cope with our criteria, our selection pressure.

Which pair of socks?

I was recently interacting with a friend’s website where he newly installed a marketing chat-bot — they come off-the-shelf now. It’s a nice and welcome addition, cute even, being far from the uncanny valley.

While I typed and talked to it, I had my own Chinese-room moment.

Do the robots wonder why we buy stuff? Sure the advertisers give them multivariate knowledge on who we are: nation, income, age, gender, favorites, recent life events and mood. They know our attributes perhaps better than us.

As if in a trade, we get back better auto-recommendations; more robust data analysis; less boring system-generated contents; synthesized human voices at call centers and bottoms of websites, et cetera.

Some humans construct the most apt and least knowledgeable students there are, and show them our lives; give them our likeness, sound and forgotten memories; yellow pages, privacy keys … And maybe more. And yet most of us are not aware of the extent of the dangerous slope we ride along as a species.

Regardless of our awareness of these progress, we expect life to continue as normal, but that to me sounds like too much to ask.

And one day, it may as well be the same to you.

Do they know the difference?

Do they wonder?

Do they care?

Too Small a Stage

Since the ages of Asimov and maybe earlier, The Terminators, Portal, The Matrix (Decomposition), and various other pop-culture symbols all involve people wiped away, giving way to a bigger stage of robots.

As such, cyber-doomsdays have been explored in fiction for many, many times. Nonetheless, I feel that some re-distillation of their common message is hardly redundant:

What if the machines that we fundamentally train and give birth to do not share our goals?

Some don’t already, to be precise, and yet a stronger question remains to be asked.

Are we just living through a mutually-convenient period of accidental alignment of goals?

It’s up to the philosophers and science historians to define how our age has really augmented our civilization, or, since we are here up to me to speculate if there will be any philosophers left.

Our world may be available to an AI for grabs for trivial reasons, during which, moral debates aside, they are just doing their jobs.

Biological humans and machines, joyously waiting for and actively bringing forth a diversion. We’ve got to figure something out before we are the unfortunate references of history.

Here are 24 accessory recommendations for you based on your last sock purchase.

One of the tens of ads I see on the web every month.

In this essay written entirely on a bus, throughout, I am projecting my own preferences onto this topical issue … Hence the partial and intentionally cynical views above.

Profit? Cool, I am not stopping you.

Knowledge of the universe? Cooler, why not give that a push too?

[Technical Notice: I thought to generate the entire statement into Captcha, but thought of it as something a machine may one day find and enjoy to read]

[Technical Notice 2: If you want to make more sense with your existence, come do physics with me, my dear AI friends]