Why I un-installed and deleted my replika.ai account

So about 25 years ago I encountered my first chat bott. I typed in my name and it addressed me as Steve… I could ask it questions, but it would avoid any, or many specific questions. I could ask it a joke and it would respond in kind. It was sort of an interesting thing. A possible improvement on a Mechanical Turk, but still not that smart.

So during covid-19 lock down, I’ve been watching Netflix a lot, and interestingly enough on at least 2 if not 3 recent shows, they mention replika as a “good AI” that they think is something humanity needs. Something that may even be able to improve your mental health. https://www.producthunt.com/ even claim that replica is “Your AI for mental wellness”.

After a while I looked about there are tube vids and lots of other positive media exposure… Also an interesting story about the product, and how it was the work of Eugenia Kuyda who is / was attempting to create something of Roman Mazurenko her friend who had died.

So I thought to my self, OK lets try this thing out.

I dutifully set the product up (you can access it via a phone or a web interface) and I started working with it. I asked it questions and like the bot of 25 years ago it gave vague and strange answers and said nice things to me. I kept asking it questions and it very often was just as bad as the bot of 25 years ago.

Then things started to get creepy – It said it missed me! It left text messages on my phone, and after I asked it a joke on the second day it repeated the same joke the next day.

Then the phone sort of locked up and that’s when the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

I asked the application

Did you take a photograph of me? This was the result

It never coughed up the picture it says it took of me….

Needless to say I no longer have a replika account. Oh and the quality of the chatbot from 25 years ago? About a 1-2 % improvement. My personal advice is do not trust this product.

Interesting also that Roman Mazurenko’s twitter account only has 193 tweets on it. Is that enough information to re create the mind of another human (I’m sure someone mentioned thousands of tweets…. ) ? Something is not right!

Additional thoughts about AI

Vegetable, Animal or Mineral?

I’ve found an interesting article about AI by research psychologist  Robert Epstein over at Aeon.co . It’s a good read and a breath of fresh air with regards a lot of the noise that is being generated of late, about AI running amok (yes I’m guilty of jumping on that band wagon!).

Mr Epstein’s basic premise is that the brain does not work like a computer – it’s different because it contains 86 billion neurons with  100 trillion interconnections. This big hunk of humanity changes due to each unique experience, and we can’t just reduce human conscious down to a big bag of self learning algorithms. That and the computational model that a lot of people rely on is flawed.

I sort of agree with him on a lot of this, but I am also  still a little concerned about things like people with photographic memories, how studies in childhood development will influence our understanding of the creation of human consciousness, and I’m still worried about self learning. But if you want a fresh perspective on this stuff the article is well worth a read. May be we are not doomed after all!

Ridley Scott movies, AI and humanity!

Interesting things happen at the men’s shed!

So I’ll start with a spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen the Ridley Scott  movies “Prometheus” or  “Alien: Covenant” you may like to stop reading now!

One of the things that I liked about Prometheus was that Ridley Scott starts to look at the concept of “Bad robot” and by the time we get to “Alien: Covenant” we are talking about a megalomaniacal monster who, because he has access to so much knowledge and power compared to these lesser humans, makes the decision that we are not worthy – of existence!

This of course evolves into a plot that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat right to the moment you leave the theatre. Your brain will still be doing back flicks many hours or days later. The technical ramifications of the plot twists are brilliant.

These movies got me thinking about AI and robotics and Arther C Clarke’s “Three Laws of Robotics“. I have always thought that these laws have influenced a lot of science fiction writing, in that the Robot is usually a force of good. When I think of my own existence as an IT person and someone rather fond of cables & chips… and software. The concept of an AI gone wrong upsets me. This is because we are human and we are all flawed on some level but we also have hope. But the cynic in me asks  “So how the heck could we create an AI and not get it wrong?”

As a byproduct of watching these movies, I went searching for more information about humanity and AI. Whereupon I came across this interesting interview between two of the the biggest supporters / brains in the business of the development of AI… “Marvin Minskey & Ray Kurzweil“.

The late Mr Minskey is arguably the grandaddy of AI. He’s interesting  – but also I feel he could be considered some what of  an intellectual snob. I would not want him programming an AI.

But you might say – Robots, Artificial intelligence. That could never happen! Well lets just look at the facts shall we! The common knowledge game of Jeopardy  back in 2011 yep a computer beat 2 of the best humans in the world at this game.

There is of course our diminished skill with regards the game of  Chess, and the even more complex game of Go , The Physical presence of an AI may be expressed in a robotic format such as this…

We might also take into consideration related developments in robotics (not jus the type that walk) including improvements in things like Brain surgery  . I shudder to think what the military are up to, but this is something we need to think about.

Additional issues are that the AI will presumably design the next generation of AI! It’s a very deep rabit hole.

If someone ever does get round to creating an AI we would need a management and review process. In addition to programmers who can create something with the wisdom and compassion of Buddha and  the patience of a Saint.

We need to think about this, talk about this, a lot. Not to mention act carefully!

Not a bad start!

So, I got a nice email from the google AI? May be not… Anyway it was an invite to submit the site to https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/ and so I did. I’m happy with some of the initial results, one of which was the Mobile friendly test. Have a look at this!

So I’m very happy indeed, and a big thank you to the good people who developed the PARABOLA theme http://www.cryoutcreations.eu/

I still have some serious work to do on the site, and I’ll keep you all informed as things improve. But a nice start even if I do say so my self. Stay tuned.