AOH :: ARTIFICI.TXT|
By Michael Ferris
Computer scientist, Arthor Boran was estatic. A few minutes earlier, he had
programed a basic mathemtical problem into his prototypical ACKRON 1 computer.
His request was simply "give me the sum of every odd number between zero and
ten". the computer quickly answered 157, which was unexpected to say the
least. With growing excitement, Boran requested an explanation of the machines
reasoning. The printout read " the term odd number is ambiguous, I therefore
chose to interpit it as meaning , a number that is funny looking, using my
esthetic judgement, i picked 3, 8, & 147, added them and got 157.
A few moments later there was an addendum; I guess i ment 158.
Followed shortly by; 147 is more then 10 isn't it? sorry.
Anyone doing conventional research would undoubtedly consigned the hapless
computer to the scrap heap. But for Boran, the ACKRON 1's response
represented a breakthrough in a little know field; artificial stupidity.
Boran is the head of NASA, the national artificial stupidity Assoc. ,
( which is not to be confused with the space people he added), which is a
loose knit band of computer school dropouts currently occupying an abandoned
frat house on the University of New Mexico's campass.
"There is alot of attention given to the develpoment of artifical
intelligence," Boran explained,"but relatively little on stupidity. Dumbness
is a far more difficult quality to synthesize than intelligence. Human beings
have a remarkable capacity for fallacious reasoning, illogical conclusions,
& plain ignorance--triats that are unique to them and alien to conventionally
programed computers. My goal is to generate a program that can accurately
simulate the full variety of human stupidities.
Those initial errors of the ACKRON 1, involved the total inability to interpret
or follow even simple directions, as well as a mornic leval of mathematical
competence, were a promising start. Since then, Boran and his staff have made
numerous other significant breakthroughs, amoung them are:
* A program known as IDMBH ( an acronym for "I did my best HONEST!", which is
the computers most frequently stated lament). NOT only has IDMBH thus so far
failed to solve a single problem or even retrieve a single peice of data
stored, it has also generated an impressive set of excuses ranging from "I
didn't know you wanted it today" to "the dog erased it!".
* Non sequitor BO4, a particularly costly program to design, due to the vast
amount of information stored in it. Despite the wealth of knowledge, the BO4
fails to respond to any request in even a remotely organised fashion. Instead
it answers with speculative data response --a guess--made by sifting through
and spitting out data in what amounts to a random process. For instance, when
asked to provide a brief rundown on earthquake zones that might be show
activity in the next 5 years, BO4 supplied several hundred suggestions,
including: ARIZONA? MARS? THE KREMLIN? DISNEYLAND? PIKE'S PEAK, THE BRONX ZOO?
THE NABISCO FACTORY? THE ROSE BOAL?
*AGGREPOST PR, an agressive posture, pointless--rationalization program.
Aggrepost's unique "stupidity factor" is not based on its consistent
fallibility, but rather on the obnoxious extent to which the program will
defend its erroneous conclusions. A typical exchange with AGGREPOST was one in
which one of Borans senior programmers challenged the computers assertion that
the city of Tijuana is militarily superior to the US. rather then back down,
AGGREPOST proceeded to support its claim with a slew of fictitious "facts" &
"evidence" including reports that troops are massing at the Mexican border
armed with cheap pottery.
These developments are certainly a far cry from NASA'S primative programs, in
which computer responses were rarely more sophisticated then "i give up", or
"You tell me". Despite this impressive progress, a fundimental question still
hangsover the whole dicipline of artifical stupidity, a question faced by all
ground-breaking research projects; WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT??"
For an answer, NASA went to its own GLIB 5000, one of a series of smart--stupid
models designed to present inanities in a sophisticated manner as possible.
GLIB's offical assessment of artificial stupidity was as follows; ALL AVAIBLE
EVIDENSE INDICATES THAT NOT ONLY IS A.S.S. OF DIRECT BENFIT TO THE PARTIES
INVOLVED IN CONDUCTING IT, IT IS NO WAY AN IMPEDIMENT TO LASTING PROGRAMS AIMED
AT AIDING THE POOR AN ELDERLY, REDUCING GLOBAL TENSIONS, & ULTIMATELY ACHIEVING
A LASTING WORLD PEACE.
Arthor Boran's answer is a more down to earth; "All of us, at one point or
another have recieved a fone bill for a million dollars, or a lifetime supply
of industrial strength otter poison. What are these attributed to? Computer
error, of course! It's difficult for humans to really be sure of when and why
the computer is screwing up.
"At NASA we're trying to correct all that. By designing programs that
accurately simulate human stupidity, we have made a simple matter for
scientists to percieve at once what thier computers were doing wrong. Right
now World War III could be triggered because of some overload ina silicon chip
controling NORAD'S missile silo. Wouldn't it be of some consolation to have a
word of explanation from the computer like: OOPS, I THOUGHT THAT SOVIET POTATO
TRUCK WAS REALLY A DECOY, IT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN, OK????"
One might be tempted to call BORAN'S reasoning, well--stupid. But in all
probability he'd take that as a compliment...
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