Inorganic Intelligence And His Girl Kimberly

Taking inventory of my posts, I noticed that, as of late, an inordinate number of them references one or another organic matter. And I mean “organic” literally. Skull-centric, too, due to the proximity of the royal skull-and-bones of my last post to the Memento Mori  header image.

Indeed,  the ode to King Richard III old bones was preceded by a discourse on  shit-rolling, stargazing dung-beetles and a serenade to the cute Neanderthals, happily impregnating our 30,000 year old female antecedents…

The latter, however, might’ve not happen at all, according to the recent updates from Oxford. Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens never crossed paths, in spite of the undeniable fact that traces of Neanderthal DNA were found in people living today, especially Europeans.  Now it is claimed that Neanderthals and modern humans are distantly related sub-species of Ancient Human. Remember him? Yep, from Africa…

All right then. Let’s shift our inquiring eye away from skulls, flesh, shit and organic matter, even if it once belonged to royals. Short of, say, painstakingly reconstructed genitals of the lost and found Richard III Plantagenet, what else is there to hope for?

Hence, I felt highly enthused having found a topic of interest that has to do with highly inorganic world, that of digitized data, pixels and artificial intelligence.

Not such a huge leap after all, because the two worlds meet often and, sometimes, even collaborate to an unexpected effect.

Chris R. Wilson, a filmmaker of wholly organic composition, found a collaborator who happened to be just as wholly inorganic as Mr. Wilson is organic.  As Bianca Bosker, Executive Tech Editor of The Huffington Post and the author of the article A Machine Reviews a Film Made by a Machine reports,

“Mr. Wilson’s  latest screenwriting collaborator has a sharp tongue, quick mind for pop culture references and, perhaps best of all for Mr. Wilson, doesn’t need to be paid. The screenwriter is no ordinary human, but an artificially intelligent chatbot called Cleverbot, capable of holding text-based conversations online.”

The glorious brainchild of this collaboration of organic and inorganic intelligence was the short film Do You Love Me.

Before the film’s first frame, to make our mouths fall open in anticipation, perhaps, the following words appear on the screen:  Cleverbot.com has been touted as one of the most advanced artificial intelligences ever.

I wouldn’t be surprised if that smart-ass Cleverbot.com has manufactured this self-congratulatory laudation as well.

The reaction of the article-reading and/or movie-viewing audience to both the movie and the HuffPost article varied from a rather unsophisticated “HAHHAHAHA” and “Just F#@ing brilliant” to the more refined “Bleh. Enjoy and cherish your precious human life in a flesh and blood body.”

Frankly, I wasn’t overly impressed with either the movie or the article. One HuffPost commenter writes,

“Contrary to what the author states, creativity remains thoroughly mysterious and untamed in AI (artificial intelligence), as does intelligence in general.”

I side with this assessment unequivocally (see Konstantine for more.) Indeed, where AI is concerned, the triumphal march of technology sounds more like a disjointed cacophony of unfulfilled prophecies.

…The organic process in my brain that creates odd associations where none exists, suddenly threw me some 20 years back, down the memory lane. In those dark ages, Neanderthals looked pretty much like they look today, give and take a few sartorial oddities, and most of the computer games they played were stored on CDs.

Raise your hands if you remember those times. Do I see show of hands? I thought so.

One such game, an interactive program, combining chat and animation, was designed specifically for heterosexual males, presumably adult. In its virtual world, heterosexual-presumably-adult-male could meet and develop virtual relationship (through dialogue, nothing kinky here) with his virtual dream girl. The “girl” was capable of holding text-based conversations, just like intelligent chatbot Cleverbot.  Virtual is a key here. The world was still young…

Several animated “types” of girls were on offer: voluptuous frilly blonde, exotic vamp, freckled red-head etc. The most risqué type was a vaguely S&M leather-clad creature brandishing non-threateningly looking whips and chains.

My then coworker, Sam (not his real name, his real name was Mike), introduced me to his girl Kimberly, a pixilated animation of a garishly painted brunette with beehive hairdo. Nothing exotic, just dumb. However, this was my opinion, freely expressed now but wisely held to myself then.

Sam, mind you, was a highly skilled programmer and, to my mind, should’ve been the last person to fall for a “dreamboat” on CD! Of all people, he knew exactly why and how his girl Kimberly was capable of carrying endless intelligent conversations in which her gentle and caring disposition shined through. According to Sam, Kimberly was also an expert at psychedelic whimsy. Hell-lo! The organic matter within his skull must’ve gone solid.

“Why, Sam? Why?” I appealed to his temporarily absent common sense.

“Susie,” he said. (Susie isn’t my real name, you know what is.) “Susie, what do you know about –”

“About AI?”

“About loneliness…”

…I seem to have missed my train of thought somewhere between then and now. So much for the superiority of organic intelligence. Ah, well…

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4 comments on “Inorganic Intelligence And His Girl Kimberly

    • Right. Death, however, isn’t in the least virtual. There is, although, a silver lining in being wholly organic — we are completely biodegradable, lonely or not, intelligent or otherwise.

  1. Cleverbot’s scripting leaves a lot to be desired. I mean, Prometheus? Come on. Ariadne would’ve been a far better name for a female lead.

    On a serious note, the short film is a perfect example of how scripts leave SO much to the actors and cinematography, camera angles & framing, setting & costuming, and so on. The script only needs dialogue (in this particular case, the dialogue was completely non-sensical) and stage direction. This scene had some gravity despite its absurd dialogue because the actors invested it with weight.

    In fiction, ALL of that is on the shoulders of the author. You can’t rely on actors, directors of photography, set dressers, or composers for anything. In fiction, everything is about what story the author can create in the minds of the readers.

    • It would’ve been interesting to conduct a literary experiment with Cleverbot or some other chatbot, writing a play in some predetermined style, say, the style of Samuel Becket’s “Waiting for Godot”. “Vladimir” could be human, while the “Estragon” would be written by AI. Some interesting piece of nonsensical absurd might transpire… I have a feeling it might actually rival the original.

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