There have been so many “I gave a bot hours of Hallmark movies / Olive Garden commercials / what have you and it generated this content” posts obviously written by people out there that I forgot how much I love actual AI gone amok. Inspiration Bot makes me cackle on the regular. My favorite NewsRadio episode involved Jimmy James’ book “Jimmy James: Corporate Lion Tamer” being translated into Japanese and then back into English, resulting in “Macho Business Donkey Wrestler.” Don’t even get me started on how much I love The Good Place’s Janet. Machines gone wrong might be one of my favorite tropes. It’s basically the humorous version of the Monkey’s Paw stories – be very careful what you ask for, as life (or in this case, artificial intelligence) has a way of giving it to you exactly as you phrase it.
This is what parenthood is like.
I enjoyed reading this book immensely – it is a look at what artificial intelligence is actually like – not the HAL of 2001, but predictive text with the approximate brain power of a worm. It also outlines how the differing varieties of AI come to their conclusions with delightful examples like inviting them to create knock knock jokes or pickup lines (hence the title). The book is hilarious, but informative, and ultimately shows that AI is only as dangerous or helpful as the people behind it – to a point.
At one point I was reading this book while watching the octolet, a three year old who’s too damn smart for his own good, and it felt like I was living what I was reading through. If said kraken wants something, he gets to it via the shortest distance between two points, regardless of what hapless mother might need to be climbed over to get it. You can see why this might resonate:
“In 1994, Karl Sims was doing experiments on simulated organisms, allowing them to evolve their own body designs and swimming strategies to see if they would converge on some of the same underwater locomotion strategies that real-life organisms use.5, 6, 7 His physics simulator—the world these simulated swimmers inhabited—used Euler integration, a common way to approximate the physics of motion. The problem with this method is that if motion happens too quickly, integration errors will start to accumulate. Some of the evolved creatures learned to exploit these errors to obtain free energy, quickly twitching small body parts and letting the math errors send them zooming through the water.”
My child would be that AI.
Read this book, it’s hysterical and interesting. I’m now bookmarking AI weirdness, the author’s blog, and thinking about buying the books of anyone who gave her a blurb on the back. (Thanks to SMBC / Zach Weinersmith for tipping me off to this book’s existence).