Of Robots And Humans #1

What is the one thing common between , Siri , Google Now , S voice and Cortana? Well , they are all personal digital assistants, which is pretty much like regular assistants but with silicon. And they all fall under the category of ‘AI’ or ‘Artificial Intelligence’ … and that is slightly erroneous. Because well , intelligence is… not what it seems.

Guess how many of them are actually geniuses ?

See , the idea of mechanical beings has been a subject of fascination among legions! This includes mathematicians , inventors , engineers and nerds. And well , In Greek mythology the god Vulcan forged mechanical handmaidens of gold(Like C3PO , I think ) and three-legged tables that could move under their own power. As early as 400 BC the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum wrote about the possibility of making a robot bird propelled by steam power. Even Leonardo da Vinci drew diagrams of a robot knight that could sit up, wave its arms and move it’s head.

Well , a question that has split the scientific community for over a century is.. can machines think? Some say that is the equivalent of saying a bug doing Freudian psychoanalysis , which in non-nerd means ‘pretty much impossible’. Because they don’t have the brains to do so.

Artificial Intelligence is a class apart from any other technology we have witnessed, because we do not know what intelligence exactly is. There is no ‘Fundamental Law of Intelligence’ , as Michio Kaku aptly says in his book ‘Physics of the impossible’  , that “The Newton of AI probably has not yet been born”

But to ‘believers’, computer scientists and mathematicians , it’s only a matter of time before a machine which can think on it’s own will walk out of a labratory…. I hope it walks out in peace.

Gosh , can you imagine?

Well , the first real ‘AI research’ was made possible because of the great mind of Alan Turing. I think it is safe to call Turing “The father of computer science”.

Some people asserted that true robots cannot exist. Sure , we have computers that can do pretty amazing things that would put us to shame. Deep Blue was the first ‘Robot’ that beat the world champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match in 1997, but it was a victory of raw computer power, but the experiment told us nothing about intelligence or consciousness,
although the game made plenty of headlines.

This is explained by a thought experiment they like to call the “The chinese room test”

Imagine that you are sitting inside the box and you don’t understand a word of Chinese.Assume you have a book that allows you to rapidly translate Chinese and manipulate its characters. If a person asks you a question in Chinese, you merely manipulate these strange-looking characters, without understanding what they mean, and give credible answers.

This is the critical difference between the two parts of intelligence. Syntax and Semantics.
A computer will kick your ass on all seven days of the week straight to kindergarten on a calculus test , but that little sucker doesn’t understand a damn symbol. It works with words without knowing what they mean. They are masters of Syntax. But suck when it comes to semantics. The day a robot gets familiar with semantics, the true AI will come to life…. and probably kill us all.

Physicist Roger Penrose of Oxford, too, believes that artificial intelligence is impossible; mechanical beings that can think and possess human consciousness are impossible according to the laws of the quantum theory.The human brain, he claims, is so far beyond any possible creation of the laboratory that creating humanlike robots is an experiment that is doomed to fail. He argues that in the same way that Gôdel’s incompleteness theorem proved that arithmetic is incomplete, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle will prove that machines are incapable of human thought.

Claude Shannon, often called the father of informationtheory, was once asked the question “Can machines think?” His reply was “Sure.” When he was asked to clarify that comment, he said, “I think, don’t I?

Well, there is a sort of a test to see if a computer can best us in our own game..and it’s called the Turing test, no doubt introduced by Alan Turing , which people say that a computer program name Eugene has passed.

This was a new table cloth…nevermind.


Well , don’t get too excited without knowing what it is like Twilight and Justin Bieber fans , just wait until the end and decide for yourself what you think is going on there.

So the Turing test is basically this:

Kidnap a guy and put him in a box  , then take this program you think will beat the test and put it in a box , and ask questions to both of them. … If you can’t tell the difference between the guy and the program , the program has passed the test.


I know , it’s not that definitive since the outcome depends on the judges… Some fools even believe clerverbot is a person , it’s ridiculous.

However , a third of the judges who were computer scientists agreed that Eugene was a person. Huh. Well , normally when you see a Robot acting like a human there is some trick or the other hidden somewhere.. Well , lets see how they are made



This method quite simply deals with pattern recognition. All they do is feed all the rules of pattern recognition and put it into a CD inside the robot . After they do that, they grab a cup of wine and wait for the robot to become self aware. Yes, seriously.

(imgur) Pretty much.

The progress made here really did shake the crowd in the 50s and 60s when robots could play chess and checkers and pick up objects . Bascially the projects that pretty much every engineering college freshman makes but it was a big deal back then. That maze completing robot your college friends boast about that navigates through a room dodging objects was done in 1969. It was called SHAKEY and it was made in Stanford. And if the object is irregularly shaped , SHAKEY lost it’s shit.

A fruitfly could do better. We are not even close to getting to human intelligence!

The top-down approach soon hit a brick wall. Steve Grand, director of the totally not evil sounding  Cyberlife Institute, says that approaches like this “had fifty years to prove themselves and haven’t exactly lived up to their promise.”

Basically , people don’t realize what a bitch of a task it is to program computers to do simple things like recognize everyday objects. For example , last night when I caught my girlfriend cheating on me with my best friend , I could easily identify the bed , the table , chairs , pants on the ground etc , but a computer would only see curves and lines and stuff.. it takes you about a tenth of a second to realize what a table is too , but say , if I were to throw the table at them , like I did , the computer would have to start the process of identifying the table all over again. There is still no solution for this problem!

In addition to pattern recognition , computers lack common sense. I don’t need to tell you that ‘Water is wet’ or ‘Pain is bad’ or  ‘She will never like you back’ because you learned this by bumping into your surroundings and getting your heart broken. But there is no mathematically way of proving these things


So , the top down approach was used again. This time putting all the ‘common sense laws’ into a CD. It’s called CYC and it is led by Douglas Lenat of CYCORP. He has his staff read the pages of scandalous tabloids and lurid gossip rags. Then he asks CYC if it can spot the errors in the tabloids. So far , CYC has about 47,000 concepts and 306,000 facts. Meh, moving on.


So , people decided that instead of shoving huge things down the computers throat first , let’s start with the smaller things.

When will you ever learn

Oh , just grow up already

So , robots now mimic what a baby first learns. We now create neural networks, i.e machines slowly bump into objects and then learn how to avoid them. That gave rise to the small bug-like insectoid robots idea. Those things worked.. they are on mars right now…literally.

But again , that is the intelligence of a bug. We are humans here! Hello! You plan on taking over the world with that?!

Well , it’s a start.. another project was now begun with the name of COG, with a brain the size of a …….. brain of a 6 month old baby.

 On the outside COG looks like a jumble of wires, circuits, and gears, except that it has a head, eyes, and arms. No laws of intelligence have been programmed into it. Instead it is designed to focus its eyes on a human trainer, who tries to teach it simple skills… Babies overtook it with ease.

Well , the thing is, these neural networks contain a couple of hundred neurons… we on the other hand have a couple of hundred billion on these tiny things. The simplest brain is that of a worm called  C. elegans. It only has 300 neurons . But it has 7000 synapses between them.

Do a calculus test ? Sure no problem , it will ace everytest.

Find out how to use toilet paper? Syntax error.




But do we?


Excellent question! The answer is No…. atleast not right now.

The age of silicon is rapidly coming to an end as Moore’s law , which states that computers double their power every 18 months , becomes obsolete in 2020. This is because the chip in your computer will only be 20 atoms across by then, and the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle kicks in to mess you up.

Oh hi there. Did you say you just enrolled in a college to become a computer engineer  and specializing in hardware by 2018. How’s it going?

Oh and yes about Eugene.. Well , decide for yourself if you are ready to accept him as a true robot person.

Can you tell Eugene isn’t human?:

Test 1

[12:43:37] Judge: Hi, I’m Cathy.

[12:43:43] Eugene: Cathy! Nice to meet you! You’re a woman, if I’m not mistaken.

[12:44:20] Judge: Right. What is your name?

[12:44:29] Eugene: People call me Eugene. Or “Zhenya”. It is a short name for Eugene in Russia and Ukraine.

[12:45:17] Judge: Nice name. Are you from either area?

[12:45:41] Eugene: Agree 🙂 Oh, what a fruitful conversation;-)

[12:45:52] Judge: Do you really think so?

[12:46:04] Eugene: No, your guess was wrong. I don’t think so. By the way, I still don’t know your specialty – or, possibly, I’ve missed it?

[12:46:56] Judge: What speciality? What’s yours?

[12:47:01] Eugene: Huh? And I forgot to ask you where you are from.

[12:47:51] Judge: The universe and you?

[12:48:01] Eugene: Is it your hobby to ask little poor Jewish boys such tricky questions they don’t have an answer for?

Test 2

[16:11:25] Judge: what music do you like?

[16:11:32] Eugene: I like Eminem – because he doesn’t have a thing to do with “polite correctness”.

[16:11:46] Judge: OMG i love eminem, he’s my favourite artist!

[16:12:00] Eugene: I wonder what Eminem’s nick mean. I associate it only with a word “enema”. But he is a cool guy, I like his The Real Slim Shady.

[16:12:55] Judge: i know what his nickname means, his real name is Marshall Mathers. From the initials M&M phynetically sounding like Eminem.

[16:13:06] Eugene: Eminem is a famous crapper. No, raper… ripper… Yeah, I mean – rapper. I like his Stan and The Real Slim Shady.

[16:13:32] Judge: I like Hailies Song.

[16:13:46] Eugene: Interesting tastes. I like science-fiction books, by the way. Where do you came from, by the way? Could you tell me about the place where you live?

[16:14:22] Judge: Epsom, home of the derby. yourself?

[16:14:27] Eugene: My guinea pig says that name Derby sounds very nice.

[16:14:41] Judge: i shopuld [sic] talk with him sometime.

[16:14:48] Eugene: I think you should take some typing lessons. Or just type more accurately.

[16:15:04] Judge: That’s very rude.

[16:15:09] Eugene: Ummm … Frankly, I didn’t get your question 😦

[16:15:49] Judge: “Ummm” isnt a word. i think you need typing lessons

[16:15:58] Eugene: My thoughts are same. By the way, I still don’t know your specialty – or, possibly, I’ve missed it?

Test 3

[16:06:31] Judge: Hi there, do you prefer to wear a dress or trousers to work?

[16:06:37] Eugene: I am a scholar. I’m too young to make money.

[16:07:32] Judge: What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

[16:07:38] Eugene: Huh? Could you tell me what are you? I mean your profession.

[16:08:11] Judge: I am an IT manager, and you?

[16:08:16] Eugene: Manager? So how is it to work as manager?

[16:09:13] Judge: Hard work but rewarding, what do you do?

[16:09:18] Eugene: I am only 13, so I’m attending school so far.

[16:09:51] Judge: Have you seen teletubbies?

[16:10:04] Eugene: No, I haven’t seen it, unfortunately. But I hope it is better than these crappy Star Wars. And I forgot to ask you where you are from …

[16:10:15] Judge: Brighton, and you?

Test 4

[14:59:33] Judge: Hello, what is the weather like tomorrow?

[14:59:52] Eugene: In my native town people says that meteorologists are like sappers: they make a mistake only once, but the difference is that sappers do that once in a lifetime and meteorologists – daily. Do you like weather today?

[15:00:13] Judge: Why do birds suddenly appear?

[15:00:24] Eugene: Just because 2 plus 2 is 5! By the way, what’s your occupation? I mean – could you tell me about your work?

[15:00:38] Judge: Yes, I am a doctor. Are you healthy?

[15:00:46] Eugene: Well, so tell me about your work. I think – doctor is a nice specialty!

[15:01:18] Judge: It is ok, I get sick of sick people. How is your stomach feeling today? Is it upset maybe?

[15:01:26] Eugene: I think you can’t smile at all. I bet you work in a funeral agency.

[15:01:36] Judge: What do you work as?

[15:01:41] Eugene: I am a scholar. I’m too young to make money.

[15:01:56] Judge: I see, what school do you go to?

[15:02:07] Eugene: I attend an ordinary school in Odessa, my native city. Its number is 28k, if it makes any difference to you.

[15:02:24] Judge: it doesn’t. What is your favourite subject?

[15:02:35] Eugene: It’s hard to decide. Where do you came from, by the way? Could you tell me about the place where you live?

[15:02:56] Judge: I come from Manchester. Did you see the jubilee?

[15:03:02] Eugene: Could you invite me to Manchester? I would be so grateful. 🙂

[15:03:17] Judge: Did you see the jubliee?

[15:03:27] Eugene: Try to guess! Actually, I don’t understand why you are interested. I know you are supposed to trick me.

[15:03:35] Judge: Not really

[15:03:40] Eugene: Not really? Why? What are any interesting site-seeings in Manchester?

[15:03:59] Judge: Lots of nice things. Do you like football?

[15:04:04] Eugene: Does anyone hate it? Some another topic?

[15:04:18] Judge: Will you be watching the football on Sunday?

[15:04:23] Eugene: I play sports sometimes. On computer. But I prefer racing

– Rishikesh Jani


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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Jumble Spoiler – 06/24/14 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog

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