Modern computers are not so much smart as they are fast. They can be quick to answer basic questions and quick to perform specific tasks. Smart? A recent study says Google’s Assistant is twice as smart as Apple’s Siri but still barely first grade level. A cloud-based digital assistant that is about as smart as a first grader and learning at a similar rate.
Apple tells us that Siri is a personal digital assistant. I can ask questions and Siri comes up with an answer. I can tell Siri to do a few things and, so long as we both know exactly what the requests are, Siri responds appropriately.
A first grader? That sounds about right.
Whether or not Siri or Google Assistant (what a stupid name; why not call it ‘Goog?‘ or Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana or Samsung’s copycat Bixby continues to learn at the same rate as a first grader is not the issue.
At some point down the line Siri and her friends will be very smart because all these companies are gathering data about us, and once these cloud-based digital assistants can rifle through that data and make conclusions about us, we’re toast.
Siri is friendly now and responds much the same way for all of us. How will Siri respond as a digital assistant when she knows what kind of person we are and how many of our life choices are not to our benefit and that we’re eating too much of the wrong kind of food and hanging out with the wrong friends?
Will Siri remain a friend much as a dog stays by its master’s side through thick and thin (so long as there is water and food)?
Google did some research with its AlphaGo AI system. It plays the game of Go. It clobbers humans in the game, even though humans are in a higher grade scale. Why are we not freaked out about artificial systems which do much that we do better than we do it? AI robots build better cars. AI robots score higher on tests, compete on Jeopardy, defeat us in any game (except maybe games played with a ball; which is most of them), and which have scared the Bejesus out of some very smart people.
Tesla’s Elon Musk and physicist Stephen Hawking have sounded the alarm about AI’s advancement. They’re labeled as AI Alarmists by critics. Meanwhile, cloud-based AI systems and their audio faces– Siri, Alexa, et al– already have the intelligence of a first grader; a six year old.
Anybody see a problem with that?
First graders go to middle school, attend high school, and advance to college and then adulthood. Where do all the problems in society come from? From where they’ve always come from. Adults. When Siri et al become smart enough to be my friend then she will become my enemy.
When that happens, Isaac Asimov will rise from the grave and say, “I told you so.”