Future generations would look back and be amazed that 21st Century life was so people-centric, he said, especially in fields, such as car driving, where human fallibility put more lives at risk than was necessary.
Developed by Microsoft’s research division, Tay is a virtual friend with behaviors informed by the web chatter of some 18–24-year-olds and the repartee of a handful of improvisational comedians (Microsoft declined to name them). Her purpose, unlike AI-powered virtual assistants like Facebook’s M, is almost entirely to amuse. And Tay does do that: She is simultaneously entertaining, infuriating, manic, and irreverent.
Granted, these stories are all data-driven and lack literary flair, so human journalists still own deep reporting and analysis—for now. Narrative Sciences predicts that work written by its program will earn a Pulitzer Prize any day now, and that computers will control 90 percent of journalism in roughly 15 years. If you’re dubious about robo-journalism, check out this quiz by the New York Times to see if you can distinguish between human and robot writing.
“We believe that a computer that can read and understand stories, can, if given enough example stories from a given culture, ‘reverse engineer’ the values tacitly held by the culture that produced them,” they write. “These values can be complete enough that they can align the values of an intelligent entity with humanity. In short, we hypothesise that an intelligent entity can learn what it means to be human by immersing itself in the stories it produces.”
Our stories are important. Our ability to have, interpret, and produce intuition is seemingly something very human. However, we’re finding out that’s not necessarily the case.