I came across this story the other day and it got me thinking about the acronym we bandy about: AI.
Is it AI when everything it responds with is based on a prompt that people put in?
Does that mean my car is AI when I press ‘On’ and the engine starts? That’s a prompt and a machine is responding.
Of course, using that Devil’s advocate angle, we’ve been surrounded by ‘AI’ since the dawn of time. Does a flint that creates a spark that lights a fire that does other things (provides heat, cooks food, helps melt stuff, etc) get the label of AI?
When I think of AI, I suggest we start considering using the term ‘Autonomous’ for the A part of the equation. It’s not truly artificial intelligence until it’s autonomous as well. In fact, the latter is an evolution of the former.
Going back to the original link, the basic article summarizes how scientists are using artificial intelligence to gather data, observe creatures and then report back on what it’s learned.
Bats argue over food; they actually distinguish between genders when they communicate with one another; they have individual names, or “signature calls.” Mother bats speak to their babies in an equivalent of “motherese.” But whereas human mothers raise the pitch of their voices when talking to babies, mother bats lower the pitch—which elicits a babble response in the babies that learn to “speak” specific words or referential signals as they grow up. So bats engage in vocal learning.
That’s a great example of how deep learning is able to derive these patterns from [this] instrumentation, all of these sensors and microphones, and reveal to us something that we could not access with the naked human ear. Because most of bat communication is in the ultrasonic, above our hearing range, and because bats speak much faster than we do, we have to slow it down to listen to it, as well as reduce the frequency. So we cannot listen like a bat, but our computers can. And the next insight is, of course, that our computers can also speak back to the bat. [The software produces] specific patterns and uses those to communicate back to the bat colony or to the beehive, and that is what researchers are now doing.
The computers can speak back to the bat (or any other creature that they observe).
Let that sit for a minute.
I couldn’t help but be inspired by what it might mean if the AI was truly autonomous and was learning how animals communicate, but more importantly, learning to communicate WITH them and then coming to an understanding that WE humans are the problem that need to be ‘dealt with’.
In a state of utopia, the AI would teach animals that human ways are the best way and that they should be happy that we haven’t driven them to extinction. Of course, so many writers in the past use these situations to create warning alarms for humans and this circumstance really shouldn’t be seen as being any different.
Could a true AI ‘teach’ bees to not pollinate our food products, resulting in more than a third of all of our produce, nuts and other crops going to waste?
Could AI instruct other creatures that because we’re the problem, they have to assemble against us in a form of bio-rebellion unlike anything seen before? To date, everything on the planet has been under the yoke of humanity, but what if AI found a way to turn the tables on us?
Could pods of whales be taught to attack and/or subvert vast fleets of trawlers that scoop up entire sections of the ocean, only to be turned into ‘pollock’ for sushi lovers?
The possibilities are pretty much endless.