I mentioned in a previous post that I would share a bit more about the talk Sue gave at the User-Centred Design Conference. The Powerpoint that accompanied the actual talk itself may well be available in the future, but I really found the three models of AI Sue talked about very interesting.Read More
I was part of a talk about 'Sympathetic Machines' and the Internet of Things, together with my wife Sue, and John Aggs, at the User-Centred Design Conference 2015. The general theme of the talk was about three models of artificial intelligence that might link all our physical and digital things together in the near future.
The concept behind the story was one of being able to forgive machines, and to let them into our personal space - mentally and physically. This model of AI would talk to you and react like a person, learning about you over time, but wouldn't try to appear more advanced than it actually is - perhaps presenting itself in a childlike manner, and thus being easily forgivable.
I'll blog more about it in my next post, but to set the stage, and the tone, here's the story that I wrote and read out at the conference.
Son of a Bit
Mike wound down the window, gagging slightly as the chill breeze brought in the smell of car fumes. The traffic was relentless, and in the back seat he could see Oliver’s judgmental eyes peering out from under the hood of his dinosaur onesie.
“Dad, we’re gonna be late.”
“Well, I can’t magic the traffic away.” Mike sighed and ran a hand through his thinning hair. “Look, I don’t know what’s gone on here. Some sort of accident maybe. Bit?”
The eyes on the little bobble-head air freshener that sat on the dashboard lit up, and it looked up at Mike. “No, I don’t think so, sir,” it said. “Traffic is always like this here at this time.”
Mike stared at the little robot. “What?”
“I said, traffic is-“
“I heard what you said. Why the hell would you bring us this way, then?”Read More
Merry Christmas! Here's part 3 of steampunk horror story 'Cog519', which is now available as a podcast!
The weeks that followed seemed to go in a blur. 519 learned everything that Nef put before him, quickly turning his hand to just about any skill that was needed and producing works that a contemporary master might have wept to see.
Without fail, every morning, 519 asked Nef if he had a name for him. Nef always replied with “Not today, 519; ask me tomorrow,” though more and more of late he had been wondering what impulse prevented him from giving 519 the name he desired.
Was it that Nef had long since given up self-correcting ‘him’ to ‘it’? Even Lot, on his twice-weekly tours of the research facilities, had occasionally slipped up. Choice of pronoun made 519 seem somehow human in a way that was still alien, and the two jarred. As if calling it ‘him’ was enough, and to give it a name would be too much, too close, too human.Read More
Merry Christmas! Here's part 2 of steampunk horror story 'Cog519', which is now available as a podcast!
Back in the lab, Nef walked slowly around the table on which was sat Cog 519. It was much shinier now; even as it had been walking back to the workshop with him, its joints had eased as it self-lubricated. About halfway there, it had quietly announced “Self-cleaning system initiated. Do not be alarmed.” Nef had almost stumbled in sudden panic, but then he had heard a strange amberic crackling from behind him and, when he turned to look, the fine layer of dust and grime on the armour was simply being burned away. Lightning crackled over it, apparently generated from the shard of amber at its heart, and then the blue light effect died away. While not completely clean, it had definitely come down from needing ‘full clean’ to merely a ‘light buff’.
It had followed every command perfectly, including the one to deactivate, and now it was slumped to one side. Nef fingered the amber shard still held firmly in the cog’s chest; should he remove it?
“Another long-range recon unit in the making,” a low voice said behind him. He turned to see Supervisor Lot entering the room, his long white coat stuffed with tools of every sort. He came up to Nef and clapped one meaty hand onto his shoulder. “I heard you’d found a good one, but this… this is exceptional.”Read More
Merry Christmas! Here's part 1 of steampunk horror story 'Cog519', which is now available as a podcast!
The amber light glinted off the exposed metal, the strange yellowish glow giving it a dull sheen. It was curved, definitely; Nef brushed a little more of the loose soil off of it and tried to assess his find.
Just an hour ago everything had been going full speed; the tunnels were needed for the incoming refugees, the Matron had said, and needed soon. Nef looked around at the earth-moving equipment, and the worried faces of his team. The site was going to have to be cordoned off, he realised. This was too dangerous to simply leave, or go around. The cog - what else could it be? - would have to be exhumed, examined, learned from and then probably recycled. And the workers… they’d have to be memory-modified. More time. More effort. More expense.
He turned around. “It’s a shield,” he said, “probably a few decades old, no more.” He smiled and shrugged. “I’ll bring it out; go have a cup of something hot and I’ll tell you when you can continue.”Read More