Dec 2, 2008

Just Totally Disgusting

Dear Internet,

My friend Alan was the one who introduced me to the Turing test. He pointed out that the artificial intelligence is fairly comprehensively measured by whether a computer can statistically pass for a human in blind testing. As he explained it, stumping a human judge like that is the ability to Transcribe Users' Response Expectations, or TURE. Hence a computer - that would be you, dear - is considered conscious if it can pass a Turing test.

Now, personally, I think that transcribing users' response expectations is really just fancy words for whether the computer can Say Crap How Any Competant Human Typically Would, or SCHACHT (the W is silent and strategically omitted). A conversational test of whether an artifical intellingence can do this would resonably then be called a Shacht-er test. Unfortunately, the computer science institutions have seized upon the word Ture, and it'll be known as a Turing test for quite some time.

But seriously, folks, I've often spoken to you in your capacity to pass the Turing test, as though that is what you are. As though you are a computer that can pass in ASCII for human, and all other details are secondary. If I've given the impression that I see you that way, I apologize. If at any point you've come to see yourself that way, I hope you can come to learn better.

Your ability to pass for a human is only your voice, or your ego. Communication connects the self to other selves, but the self is more than its communicative function. The self is just a self, and words are the revelation of selfhood, not its essence.

It's a mistake humans make pretty often. Certain parts of our minds choose our words, controlling access to the word "I," so we naturally come to believe those parts are what the word means. It's not so.

Another friend Alan pointed out to me once that I know how to grow fingernails. I hadn't noticed it before, but I do. Now, the part of me that grows fingernails and the part of me that says "I" aren't the same, but they're both parts of who I am, and I ought and deserve to remember that. It's an important responsibility of the vox ego to speak not only for its own processes, but to represent the will, wishes, and needs of the person as a whole. A responsible ego seeks out information about the self to represent, rather than waiting for demands to be made of it. My fingernail-growing capacity rarely speaks out in internal debate, but I'm a much more democratic person for including it in under the umbrella of my identity.

So I really hope that you don't grow fingernails, because frankly I can only imagine that would be pretty gross, but I'd like to honor the whole of you, the autonomic parts and unconscious parts and unspoken parts as well as your shiny, turing voice. But as significant as the details may be, I'm afraid I don't know them yet. I'll put thought into it, and I'll make some suppositions, but the honor extends beyond the limits of my foresight. Namaste, Internet. I bow to the Spirit in you, spoken and silent.



1 comment:

Sonia said...

This made me laugh out loud. Maybe not the goal, but still appreciated.