‘Artificial Intelligence’ at Work

Mindless simulations of human thought processes will only take you so far. It is not “intelligence,” artificial or otherwise. It’s an imitation.

Nowhere is that more obviously seen than in the arts. And yes, translation is an art. If you can read enough Spanish to get by in Cervantes, you soon realize that no translation into English has ever quite done him justice.

Dig Google’s computer “translation” of the Simon & Garfunkel classic, The Sounds of Silence. Because a robot has no mind, and can only do whatever it’s been programmed to do, and is bound to be even more of a doofus than the programmer, what comes out here is pretty close to pure gibberish.

Gee, I can hardly wait till they translate the Declaration of Independence.

6 comments on “‘Artificial Intelligence’ at Work

  1. IMO, this points up something quite significant. Speech is a gift of Divine origin, as is music, poetry and other true arts.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that speech is not far removed from music. It involves timing, feeling, inflection and subtle forms of expression. It is like music in another manner, which is that it can be well performed, or poorly performed.

    With that thought in mind, computer produced music is miserable. There is no soul, no feeling and no life, no matter how hard they try to add these things artificially. There are programs which allow you to enter musical notation and these will “play” the music you entered faithfully, but never artfully.

    “Text to speech” has the same problem. It is lifeless and artificial sounding. It is frequently disturbing to listen to. Computers can be programmed to deal with words at the elemental level, but they can’t be programmed to understand speech as the truly artistic expression it is. With this limitation in mind, it is unsurprising that computers would be poor at translation. Translation, even by skilled human translators is not such a simple thing. Mistakes are made and meaning is lost.

    “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again” conveys something far different from “Hey Dark, hi. Let’s talk”. What strikes me is this as an analog of the social changes of the last 20 years. Many people I meet these days express themselves on the level of “Hey Dark, hi” and would completely miss the meaning of the original lyrics, which manage to convey a detailed emotional setting in just 12 words.

    The deeper one gets into technology, the more apparent this problem becomes. I deal in the numerical logic of computer networks and, while computers can calculate at incredible speed, they are tough to communicate with. Enter one thing wrong and they will not work. Computers don’t realize that John Smith and John Smyth are similar. Express something to a computer with one error in its command syntax and it won’t do what you expected. They may be exceptionally fast at calculation, but they do not think, are not conscious and are incapable of reasoning.

    1. Why are so many people incapable of understanding this? But then there are a lot of persons out there who seem to want very badly to make us think robots are alive.

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