Monday, August 8, 2022

Natural Intelligence?

There used to be this joke about a chap who went out for data collection. He goes into this house and asks the lady, "Are you married?" The lady says, "No!" He goes on to the next question in his list and asks, "How many children?" And gets roundly abused for insulting her. Assuming that he had got the order of questions wrong, he goes to the next house and asks the lady, 'How many children?" She says, "Three." He follows up with, "Are you married?"

Computers, in my younger days, were supposed to be like this man. They could never understand context and modify their processes but would mindlessly follow the procedure. Unless, of course, the context itself is built into the procedure. (Ah, by the way, the joke itself is in the context of a time when an unmarried man or woman was EXPECTED to be a virgin in the society of the day, which is why talking of children without marriage was insulting. Even if you did have them, you'd bash up anyone telling you that you did! Context, you see, is needed even to get a joke. Today, with live-in relationships gaining acceptance, the questions are completely valid and, possibly, safer for the questioner to ask.)

As I was saying, this gathering things by context and reading between the lines was the unique human reasoning ability which we used to assume that computers could never manage to do. Artificial Intelligence may or may not have breached that last frontier but...

There is this recent interaction I had with the service people of a water filter. Having had a new unit installed and running, I found that the water tap on the filter was leaking. I called them up to complain.

"Sir, let me verify the details. You have bought product X and it has been installed today?"


"Are you still at the same address?"

Of course not! I am the idiot who installs a water filter in the house that I was about to vacate so that I could move into a new one within two hours.


"Your product is within warranty period and the service will be free. Do you want to schedule the service?"

Tch Tch! I was just calling the service number because I was bored and wanted to shoot the breeze with someone. And, just to make the conversation flow, I happened to mention a leaky tap on my water purifier. Why would I need anyone to repair that leaky tap?


I mean, I can understand why those questions exist in their list. Like, it could have been 9 months down the line after purchase and I may have changed houses. And, of course, if the product is post-warranty, and there is a charge for the servicing, I may opt out of getting them to do the servicing. But, as it stands...

It is gonna be a breeze for AI to overtake humans, this way. You really do not need to put in too much effort on AI. Now, human intelligence is incapable of reacting to context. (Sort of reminds me of how to make a line bigger without touching it. Draw a smaller line by the side. So, how to make AI better than human intelligence? Reduce human intelligence! And, thus, we seem to teach people to work as mindlessly as the computers of my day worked.)

Come to think of it, these chaps are taking the easy way out trying to build Artificial Intelligence. THAT's a piece of cake.

Now, if they were to attempt to mimic Natural Stupidity...