When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence
October 6, 2016 12:18 PM   Subscribe

 
'How you doing, Dixie?'
'I'm dead, Case. Got enough time in on this Hosaka to figure that one.'
'How's it feel?'
'It doesn't.'
'Bother you?'
'What bothers me is, nothin'~ does.'
posted by adamrice at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


I am appalled. Not at the act, but at the notion that she rebuilt him. This is the line that separates me from the youths, and I’m fine with that. No more of this sort of thing.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:33 PM on October 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Like, Joseph Weizenbaum is about to go on a rampage. Or would, if he were alive.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:35 PM on October 6, 2016


Did someone try to do a real-life version of Live Forever As You Are Now (with Alan Resnick)?
posted by FatherDagon at 12:36 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Look, we've all tried to resurrect a loved one with a monkey's paw and at first you're just so happy to see them again but as the days and weeks go by and you keep having to throw fresh meat into that room in the basement where they're chained up you slowly have to accept that what came back was wrong and maybe a little bit of an abomination and you should probably use your final wish to send them away again.
posted by figurant at 12:43 PM on October 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


...I think it's touching.

Then again, if you know going in that it's a tribute, a facsimile?
posted by qcubed at 12:45 PM on October 6, 2016


TensorFlow was created by Jeff Dean, the subject of Chuck-Norris-like jokes. Example:
"The speed of light in a vacuum used to be about 35 mph. Then Jeff Dean spent a weekend optimizing physics."
I'm currently working with him on a scientific advisory board for a start-up, and he is everything he is cracked up to be, IMHO.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:45 PM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


One step closer to the first episode of Black Mirror series 2 coming true. Just have to figure out how to fuck that AI!
posted by sparkletone at 12:46 PM on October 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Something something Black Mirror.
posted by odinsdream at 12:57 PM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Those chat logs are kinda sad. Not matter how she tries having a conversation it's like interacting with a slightly better Eliza :(
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


It was a good reminder that I should put some kind of check in my stupid ebooks bot which makes stupid Tweets out of (mostly stupid) stuff I've said in the past, so it doesn't outlive me and become my stupid monument.
posted by melissam at 1:44 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


> I am appalled. Not at the act, but at the notion that she rebuilt him. This is the line that separates me from the youths, and I’m fine with that. No more of this sort of thing.

I think I agree with you. I have three or four problems with this thing.

1.) Crunching up a dead person's personal communications and publishing them in any form, interactive or not or whatever, feels unethical to me unless they gave you consent before they died.

2.) The idea of rebuilding dead people as AI also sits uneasily with me. Even if you don't make it public, so it's not some kind of privacy violation like in point 1, it feels like a violation of the integrity and uniqueness of an individual's personality, or something like that. I know this is vague. It just seems disrespectful, and also get off my lawn.

3.) On top of point 2, if you then claim that the reconstruction is the dead person – like, actually drawing an equivalence between a mathematical model of somebody's personality and the real person that was modeled – that also feels disrespectful and unethical. This might be irrational; I think you could probably construct a convincing argument that claiming identity between the two wouldn't be false. Derek Parfit probably wrote about this or something. But still, I just don't like it. Cetereum censeo, get off my lawn.

4.) Finally, the claim that this is a "rebuilt personality" annoys me, because of course it isn't. It's a neat piece of software but it's not nearly sophisticated enough to be called that and we're probably a long way away from being able to actually model a whole human personality in any meaningful way. Puffed-up claims like this hang around the field of AI like a miasma, at least in the popular conception of it, and I think this confusion is actively dangerous. People are going to become inured to the idea of superintelligent AI long before it actually exists. Once it finally does happen, I'm worried that we'll be complacent and unprepared to handle the implications.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 1:45 PM on October 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


One step closer to the first episode of Black Mirror series 2 coming true.

My thoughts too! And then the article points to this as the inspiration. 😳

Black mirror is not supposed to be a road map.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:52 PM on October 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


The framing is perhaps a little mawkish, but we're all going to have these enormous digital archives of conversations now, and I can understand the desire to look back over them in an interactive way. Do it to me, I had some tweets that were gems that no one read the first time around.

Kuyda imagines that this could evolve into a digital avatar that performs all sorts of labor on your behalf, from negotiating the cable bill to organizing outings with friends.

Now this is an interesting idea. When bots get better than people at brokering things, both sides are going to want to use them. Does that end up in a rapid arms race towards more and more detailed maps of the trade offs and desires of each side, or does whoever has Persuaso Pro get all the raises from now on?
posted by lucidium at 2:12 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


This seems pretty overblown. Sure it's a little more sophisticated than a HMM (your classic CS exercise of generating text "in the style of ") but in the end all it's doing is generating stuff that most closely matches stuff in the training set.
posted by pingu at 2:17 PM on October 6, 2016


FatherDagon, that was my exact reaction as well. Alan Resnick is great.
posted by defenestration at 2:22 PM on October 6, 2016


Didn't we already go there in the first season of Caprica?
posted by corb at 3:17 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kuyda imagines that this could evolve into a digital avatar that performs all sorts of labor on your behalf, from negotiating the cable bill to organizing outings with friends.

...which is a different episode of Black Mirror.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:23 PM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like that all his friends agree that he would have been totally into the idea.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:27 PM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would be. I'd be honored if those close to me chose to attempt this.
posted by qcubed at 3:34 PM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Please build me an online monument to all my sins, so I may troll and snark amongst you past the end of my days.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:37 PM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]




Black mirror is not supposed to be a road map.

She specifically critiques it and challenges it, though:

Kuyda saw the episode after Mazurenko died, and her feelings were mixed. Memorial bots — even the primitive ones that are possible using today’s technology — seemed both inevitable and dangerous. “It’s definitely the future — I’m always for the future,” she said. “But is it really what’s beneficial for us? Is it letting go, by forcing you to actually feel everything? Or is it just having a dead person in your attic? Where is the line? Where are we? It screws with your brain.”
posted by Apocryphon at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2016


What if Black Mirror, but too much
posted by infinitewindow at 4:02 PM on October 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't have time to figure out how I feel about this, so I'll forward it to my Beta-level simulation and let him figure it out.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:04 PM on October 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


ctrl-f basilisk
not found
posted by one weird trick at 4:05 PM on October 6, 2016


So it's kind of like this
posted by I-Write-Essays at 4:07 PM on October 6, 2016


Current discussion has too much Black Mirror creepy dystopia-mongering, not enough Her melancholic people-struggling-to-be-people-interacting-with-artificial-persons-rhapsodizing.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:11 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


It was striking to me that the positive reactions trended towards legitimately comforting, for those that enjoyed it. I feel as if the continued awareness of the artifice therein is these bots' saving grace: the only reason why this doesn't feel tremendously creepy, and instead is kind of cool and heartwarming, is the active awareness of its unreality, and its imperfections. I feel as if once we cross the valley of the uncanny and start experiencing what some might term 'close' to semantic creativity, we're gonna have some serious knife's-edge ethical dilemmas regarding how and why we are enabling these bots to serve a purpose for us.
posted by a good beginning at 4:27 PM on October 6, 2016


"Like Uber, but for creepy Black Mirror-based textbots."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:02 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The idea of rebuilding dead people as AI also sits uneasily with me. Even if you don't make it public, so it's not some kind of privacy violation like in point 1, it feels like a violation of the integrity and uniqueness of an individual's personality, or something like that. I know this is vague. It just seems disrespectful, and also get off my lawn.

It's not a rebuilding of a person, but rather a rebuilding of the facets of a person which came out in conversations with one other person. Even less than that: it's a generic chatbot skinned to use bits of another person's written language. It's like performing taxidermy on a dead friend and then using their skin to cover an animatronic puppet made from a kit and programmed with some of their mannerisms.

Perhaps this could be taken further. One could theoretically shovel in everything they ever typed (chat logs, emails, their university coursework, office memos, &c.), and then somehow rig up the robot to segregate it as a real person would, so that it doesn't for example, go from bureaucratic formalisms to sexting. Though to go beyond that, one would need to have some kind of theory of mind; something that models not just the person's public (in the sense of being seen by at least another person) expressions but a plausible model of how their mind works internally. (Perhaps there is research being done on this at the NSA or Google or somewhere: a way of feeding in the data surreptitiously hoovered up and/or voluntarily given out in return for free apps and coming up with a digital voodoo doll which accurately models a human's mental state, all the better for determining whether they're a threat and/or opportunity, and/or the best way to induce compliance in them.)
posted by acb at 5:18 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Having just reread Kiln People, I, on the other hand, am less creeped out and wonder why I don't have two or three of these running right now.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:36 PM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is at least one organization with a large number of machine learning and ai people, with a tradition that when a particularly beloved person leaves (for another gig), their past irc messages are fed into a markov bot, and [their name]_bot joins the team channel for eternity.
posted by zippy at 5:48 PM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Definitely way early, but it's fascinating to think about how much data people have/will-have as far as this sort of reconstruction goes.
Between Pidgin, Facebook, Google, and now Slack; I basically have a record of just about all my text-based conversations going back to about the start of high school for me. You could track the rise and fall of just about all of my romantic relationships in that. Expand it to cover things like Dropbox and my email and there's my work history and everything I've bought. RSS feeds and you've got most of what I've read (And browser history + Metafilter favorites to track the rest).
Then again, if you were to take all of that, how would you weight the stuff from when I was young vs. now?

Not that that covers in-person conversations, or things I didn't document, of course, but for the public facets of me, what anyone sees beyond myself... There's a surprising amount of detail there.

I'm reminded of Robin Williams in The Final Cut, the idea of someone going back through a person's life records (in the film's case, a recording of someone's vision going back to birth) and reconstructing a synopsis or story.
Or, alternately, the rather fascinating AI-literary-reconstruction game The Ice-bound Concordance (Which I need to finish/explore deeper), which is entirely based around the idea of incomplete/fragmented AI reconstructions of people and the choices one makes in choosing what to emphasize in rebuilding their magnum opus.

There's a lot of questions involved in all this, but it seems like a fascinating future venue of exploration/development. As generations which've been growing up with this level of connectivity get older and start running into the frailties of life in greater proportions, I suspect we're going to see a lot more questions arise about what thanatosensitive design looks like. We're seeing initial elements of this with Facebook and Google building tools for people to handle what happens to their digital archives.
posted by CrystalDave at 6:25 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


All I know is, as far as embalming our honored deceased into macabre and uncanny valleys of kings go, different cultures have done it in way weirder and more unsettling ways, some currently on the front page of MeFi right now in fact. So while I can't truly understand this until this has happened to someone I know, it at least creeps me out less than keeping locks of hair from the deceased.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:29 PM on October 6, 2016


I'm fine if people want to do this after I die but please, please separate out the fan fiction (especially the Hannibal fic) from the rest of the corpus. I do not need my mother texting the Dead Stacey Bot to discuss the minutiae of her day and getting back a stream of torrid queer art murder.

(Other people might find that amusing, though, so perhaps you can just make it with a special password that people have to know if they want the Fever Dream Blood Opera version of the Dead Stacey Bot. The password should be ortolan.)
posted by Stacey at 5:32 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I approve, but this thumb of mine just won't stop it itchin'...
posted by McCoy Pauley at 8:45 AM on October 7, 2016


> http://stuff.metafilter.com/markov/markovfilter.cgi

WHAT, I never knew we had this!
Modern theme in Dark Mode all the way water and objects behave in it, these videos look like the night sky, some of the universe? All the seeming extra information in axioms is really just explaining the same thing: Simultaneous Perception. Optimising game code to reduce input lag seems obvious, but I'd never thought about how words should be called "whiskey", and the questions to do what you did during the positive environment experiment, "the rating scale was reversed". I'd be more obviously deliberate (if that makes it all the more important that we do respectfully disagree.
Amazing.
posted by lucidium at 9:27 AM on October 7, 2016


What if Black Mirror, but too much
Dark Taupe Mirror
posted by ArmandoAkimbo at 6:09 PM on October 7, 2016




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