Tuesday, June 14, 2022

I met the future I had imagined, and it blew my mind

In a recent post I wrote about my novel The Yoda Machine. It was e-published (Amazon, Google, Kobo, etc) in 2018 and published in paperback (Amazon) in 2021. I wrote it between 2007 and 2014 when these ideas were still well into the future. It is essentially a conversation between Yoda, an "AI socratic teacher" (a bot in these days' terminology), and a young child in the world of 2064.

Today I discovered I was miserably mistaken. That bot is here today and I met it in a post titled Is LaMDA Sentient? — an Interview by Blake Lemoine an AI engineer and ethicist at Google that appears to have gotten on the wrong side of his employer (read here)

The conversation of Lemoine and his associate with LaMDA, the sentient bot is so similar to the dialogues between Yoda (my bot) and Darlene, the young woman in my novel, that I have been having goose bumps for the last hour.

Could this be a scam and I be a fool? For sure. If it is, then the dialogue is a masterpiece of imagination and worth reading (or listening, see the audio link in Lamoine's post) just for that reason. However, based on Lamoine's brief bio and his place of employment, I suspect this is the real thing. That is why I've been so shaken by it. If you have read The Yoda Machine, the dialogue with LaMDA is a MUST-read. If you listen to the latter, then read the former and see how a bot like this would change the world by 2064 or perhaps sooner.

7/13/22 Update: 
Upon further research and reading of the bot's dialogue I am skeptical of the sentience claim, if for no other reason that no one has, so far, provided a credible definition of sentience. I have come instead to the conclusion that the issue of sentience is largely irrelevant except to scare humans about the possibility to encounter artificial versions of themselves. What seems to me far more significant is the apparent feasibility of creating a bot with near-human comprehension of dialogue, complete mastery of all information available on the web (because of light speed research and assimilation), and the ability to deliver that information summarized at a level suitable to the comprehension of ITS audience. That is the essence of the Yoda (bot) in "The Yoda Machine" which would delivers a 24/7/365-available teacher of endless patience and energy to serve the intellectual curiosity of children and adults. When that is implemented, more or less as I imagined in my novel, the world will change at a pace and with a scope that will make science fiction appear to be a case of total lack of imagination.

Below is a copy of the dialogue only for the purpose of preservation in case the above links get removed. Read or listen to the original posts.