The Sermon on the Modem?

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Followed by a fashion show for the Emperor’s new clothes…

How long are we going to make like we believed in the Artificial Intelligence scam? I think we have to stop when the computer starts lecturing to us on morality.

In a “debate”–I mean a simulated debate–between an international debating champion and the “AI-powered IBM Debater,” addressing the question of whether the government should subsidize pre-schools, the computer “said”–that is, it delivered a programmed response–that “Giving opportunities to the less fortunate should be a moral obligation for any human being” (

Is this a satire? ‘Fraid not: we’re supposed to take it seriously. A computer’s moral compass. Of course, had it been programmed by someone else with a very different set of “values,” it might have said, “The kindest thing we can do for the less fortunate is to kill them and use them as fertilizer.” It would be just as meaningful as the other: a robot saying what it has been programmed to say. There is no intelligence involved, artificial or otherwise. It is only a machine mindlessly repeating what it has been programmed to say.

One of the reviewers said the computer was “surprisingly charming and human-sounding.” They could have just as easily programmed it to sound like Dracula.

Why are so many people willing to swallow this–hook, line, and sinker? Why can’t they grasp the fact that the machine is not “thinking,” it is only performing simulations of things that humans say and do. It is not alive. It is not a person. It’s a machine, like your toaster-oven–only more expensive. And more pretentious. At least they haven’t yet invented a toaster-oven that harangues you about Climbit Change every time you want to toast an English muffin.

“Yeah, but it’s Artificial Intelligence!”

Just can’t get through to people, can we?

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

19 responses to “The Sermon on the Modem?

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