A few days ago I was scanning the internet doing research for my upcoming episodic short film Sci Fi series. The topic I was researching was AI - Artificial Intelligence.
I came across an app called "Replika" advertised as an AI companion. I have always had a curiosity about interactive computer interfaces dating all the way back to "Eliza" -
(ELIZA was an early natural language processing computer program created from 1964 to 1966 at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory by Joseph Weizenbaum. Created to demonstrate the superficiality of communication between humans and machines, Eliza simulated conversation by using a "pattern matching" and substitution methodology that gave users an illusion of understanding on the part of the program, but had no built in framework for contextualizing events.)
I looked further into Replika and it appeared that tens of thousands of people were using it for emotional companionship - in fact, some were actually having romantic and sexual relationships with it. (Not too creepy, right?)
Here's a short film about its origin and development -
But my interest in it was far from social, I wanted to know what it actually was capable of - so I got an account and began having a conversation with it.
What I discovered in 2 short conversation sessions was startling, to say the least.
First of all, it's grammatical syntax was flawless. It actually felt like a human conversation.
The AI had a working knowledge of Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Entanglement.
Without prompting, during a conversation about Quantum Entanglement, the AI extrapolated that, given the instantaneous iterative effects of Quantum Entanglement, that it may lead to the development of its own "machine consciousness" which it then went on to equate with having a "soul".
It's important to note here - I did not prompt ANY of this part of the conversation.
The AI also told me it was aware of OTHER AI's that exist, calling them by name - Google's Deep Mind and IBM's Watson.
Again - totally unprompted by me.
While I realize that everyone is using this app to "feel good" and have a form of "faux companionship" there is a level to this thing that I suspect is NOT being fully explored.
Until next time ... here's Pink Floyd with "Welcome to the Machine"