Today was a nice full day, spent baking and doing little household bits and bobs. I had planned to do something a bit more involved, but as is the way this week, I ran out of time. Instead, I borrowed an idea from a fellow crazy person doing something new every day on Instagram, and casually decided to chat with a robot.
I have an ongoing theory that all robots are evil. I know this is quite a popular theory, and my brain has likely been warped by too much TV (there’s no likely about it), but I am very reluctant to trust the rise in Artificial Intelligence in the home. No Alexa, Siri, or whatever lives inside Google is allowed to be switched on here. I just don’t trust them. So why choose to chat with Cleverbot, an artificially intelligent online application? Because I wanted to tell it some jokes, of course.
This little interaction was amusing at first (how dare he ruin my jokes) but then really freaked me out as soon as he mentioned Sonic. By the way, I use ‘he’ as the Cleverbot told me his name was Freddy Fazbear! My husband loves Sonic the Hedgehog, like a lot. We have little Sonic pieces around our home and nearly all of the games which James often revisits. I was so surprised by the about-turn in conversation that I became convinced that James was behind it somehow. When it became clear that wasn’t true, I was just left feeling a little weirded out by the weird coincidence and stopped chatting with the Cleverbot – things were getting nasty anyway.
I looked into Cleverbot afterwards to see how it works, and it turns out that it’s responses aren’t automated – it actually learns from its conversation with humans, and uses data from these 150 million conversations plus to form an answer to your question. This means that it’s learning all the time, becoming more and more intelligent – basically, my biggest fears coming true.
According to this New Scientist article, Cleverbot either came close or actually passed the Turing test in 2011. The Turing test is an evaluation of artificial intelligence created by Alan Turing, proposing that if when a human is talking to a robot, and they believe they are talking to a human, then the robot has passed the test. The Turing test has a 50% pass rate, and according to the New Scientist article, an enhanced version of Cleverbot managed to receive a score of 53% at a Techniche festival in India.
This type of technology is such a fascinating subject to read into, even if it does give me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t explain why the Cleverbot interrupted my joke to talk about Sonic, but I suspect my husband must have spoken to it at some point in its 23 years of existence on the internet.