Otto is my AI, artificial intelligence. He’s programmed to collect data and present it as a multi-sensory report. Some
consider him a brain clone, but he’s more than that. Otto makes decisions based on an objective interpretation of facts, immune to emotion and experience.
This sounded good when I stood for my Orals, but implementation has proven a challenge. From the moment I pushed Otto’s go pedal, he stopped listening to me. Deadlines and rules became constraints of lesser AI’s (which brings to mind the story of the chimp who was insulted when his handler called him a ‘monkey’). Every time I add attributes such as ‘team player’ (a difficult concept for binary code), he uses his problem solving algorithms to circumvent my instructions. I finally decided to give him his virtual head and see where he went. If he doesn’t succeed by the time my funds ran out, we’d both be deactivated.
I started with my passion, the Dawn of Man. Actually, this turns out to be an inspired choice. Only the hardest bones—skulls, jaws, teeth—weather the winds and rains that ground mountains to dust and rocks to
pebbles. The rare survivor becomes the basis for evolutionary theory. Otto excelled at just that sort of pressure-driven conclusion-drawing. (18)
Otto has been compared to HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame. Its full name is HAL 9000 and “HAL” stands for a “Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic” computer. Computers in the real year 2001 had nowhere near the speech-articulation HAL does in the movie or Otto does now that I’ve upgraded his linguistic algorithms. To engage computers or AIs in extended conversations, programmers need to integrate speech recognition, natural-language understanding, discourse analysis, world knowledge, reasoning ability, and speech generation.
HAL by the way, is supposed to be a forced acronym as described above, playfully tied into one letter minus from I, B, M. Everyone’s got a code…