I find this really interesting and a portent of the future. I am sure you remember the context to the films Bladerunner, chasing down sneeky renegade bots. Then there was AI with its ‘Flesh Fair’, (humans destroying orphaned robots), then the agents in Matrix, what is real and who is not etc: All come from many years of fiction and dread about a future infested with automatons. But AI is already receiving a backlash yet a BBC report last week, has experts agreeing it is here to stay and will be ubiquitous.

Here are on the dawn of real and virtual spaces having AI driven ‘invaders’. I say invaders because in the most ‘socialised’ virtual world of SL not knowing who is human or not in is already receiving backlash and resistance. New World Notes post ‘How to Spot a Bot‘ is the tip of the iceberg and many forums/blogs around the larger virtual worlds talk about corporate spies, automated gold farmers (WoW) and the embarrassment of spending three hours chatting up an avatar only to find out he or she is a database driven machine! In a completely virtual environment which is of course far ahead of ‘humanoids’ being present in real space, it has become very difficult to tell now if the avatars have a human or an sql driving them and this is irritating many ‘human’ inhabitants!

This is definitely something that we will be facing more and more in the coming years and the BBC report ‘Machines to Match Man by 2029‘ takes a different approach.

“”I’ve made the case that we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence by 2029,” said Ray Kurzweil. The report continues – Mr Kurzweil is one of 18 influential thinkers chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century by the US National Academy of Engineering. The experts include Google founder Larry Page and genome pioneer Dr Craig Venter. The 14 challenges were announced at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, which concludes on Monday.

I have been looking at AI in its various manifestations over the years as it is the ultimate in personalization, a digital you. Last year I created a simple chatbot on the ABC Island (and other builds I have created in Second Life) that uses a Pandora look-up back-end (calling to the web on each line of chat). I get many IM’s inworld asking if it is actually me talking through it! (not sure what that says about my conversational abilities!). There are also some ‘cultured’ (as in they can talk literature, science etc) book-bots I created for Thursday’s Fictions (another SL project) – and I am working with a great Australian company called MyCyberTwin who are leading the way globally in personalized, personality based AI. As regards the backlash mob I quote Hamlet from NWN

“And in any event, what happens when the bot farmers program their bots to have minimal AI and conversational abilities, a technology which already exists? I can see the fun in not knowing if the avatar you’re dancing with has a human being controlling her. But at some point, isn’t there an ethical obligation for bot owners to clearly designate them as such?”

It is a shame these poor bots (they prefer to be called AIs at the moment – eventually of course we will treat them as ourselves) are already being blamed for the ills and wrong doings in Virtual Worlds, but expect much more. Anyone for the next ‘Flesh Fair’ in Second Life, may as well get practicing for the real thing in a couple of years, or is that a couple of centuries? 😉

Thursday’s Book Bot