Siri — the “weak” AI in your life
I just came across this tumblr that records the shit that Siri says.
A few pundits have commented on how Siri is essentially “weak” AI, meaning, its conversation is indistinguishable from a human’s (the Turing test), even though it doesn’t of course really understand what it’s saying. It’s just manipulating symbols, looking up what to say in the vast reams of online text out there. It probably does it with statistics (ha ha) and, judging from Siri’s response to “Open the pod bay doors” and “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?”, a few randomly accessed stock answers. In fact, the tumblr stream suggests we are quite predictable in our attempts to stumble the “weak AI” in our lives.
This made me imagine a not so distant future where we have created two kinds of intelligent artificial beings. The Siri (and Watson) kind, which are witty in expected ways and are able to maintain short free-form conversations in between helping us access and process online information, but which “don’t really understand”, although they could get really good at pretending they do. And the self-driving car kind, who, like your dog, can’t talk, but are clearly truly intelligent, in the “strong AI” sense: they perceive and manipulate the changing physical world according to their goals, they operate (you could say think) with categories created out of properties of landscapes and objects that they can sense. They are capable of creating meaning, even though they can’t express it (yet).
I wonder how our relationships with these things will be shaped by their abilities and our views of them. Will the meaningless but cute and funny Siri-alikes gain rights and maybe even full personhood, while the sensing and thinking cars will be relegated to tool status because they lack language?
Ref: Parisien & Thagard (2008) Robosemantics: How Stanley The Volkswagen Represents The World. Minds and Machines 18:2 (pdf)