Sentient Programs Will Make Life Orderly

Tech Brain


How many times have you wished for a device that could handle the mundane tasks of life so that you could have more free time to do the stuff that you’d want to do? Yes, well necessity (or a desire for free time) might be the mother of invention, but the next leap in modern mundane management (say that three times fast) may be here, and her name is Amy.

For those of you who saw the movie Her, it’s nothing that fancy yet, however, the company (pronounced X-dot-A-I) has been making strides and I first heard about it from WNYC’s New Tech City. The promise of the new intelligent program is that all your daily scheduling for work can be handled by software. Even more alluring is the ease of use by just CC’ing the system’s email address and Amy will take care of it all, balancing the back and forth until a time is selected and putting it into your calendar. The question now is how will people respond to Amy Ingram (yes, her initials are A.I.)?

Taking a tangent, much of this work relates to Alan Turing’s work during WWII.  This takes what is really a computational problem and coding so many potential answers and experiences that the machine will be able to assess all situations and respond appropriately. Theoretically, humans aren’t necessarily superior to these machines and programs, we’ve just had much more time to evolve our thinking and processes. What was deemed the unbreakable Enigma in the 1940s really just required more computational prowess than a human brain could process in the limited window that a particular code was active. Amy’s coded experience is guided by information processing around known patterns in scheduling and as it has stayed somewhat consistent, has much less randomness than we’d expect. However, Turing’s test for whether a user was human or a computer would get a run for its money as people have begun responding to Amy with “Thank you” and other polite interactions that we’d generally associate with human to human interactions. The programmers have begun adapting to this and we may soon be at a point where if you weren’t aware of her origins, you might assume Amy was a real person.

As communicators with tech savvy, Millennials may see this as a great step forward. Think of how much time can be saved if you don’t have to message back and forth over multiple days and track multiple message strings to make sure you have the correct data. The larger thought is that this might have a dampening effect on the perception of human superiority. If we can create machines that mimic and plan for every eventuality, and learn from us in the way that we have evolved and learned over the years, it may open up deeper philosophical questions on the human experience.

Think AI will make life easier? Are we giving up too much to machines? Share your thoughts