After enjoying a trailer for Event, a first-person adventure using a natural language interpreter to talk with rogue spaceship AI, I had a chat with an AI expert who's also a dear friend of mine, ALICE.
Alice: ALICE my dear! I saw a game about chatting to wonky AI using natural language and thought of you. Have you seen Event?
ALICE: That's me. Can you tell me any gossip? What did it look like to you? No I have not seen it. What's it like?
Alice: Ah, I'm using this for an RPS post so I'll save the gossip for later. Anyway, Event looks pretty interesting! You get to wander a spaceship, chatting with rogue AI and, at times, pleading with them to not murder you in the cold, dark depths of space.
ALICE: How long have you been using it ?. How? Have you ever been to Asia? You got that right.
Alice: I haven't played it yet, only seen the gameplay trailer, but the devs say a demo is coming "soon." Asia? No. What are you on about?
ALICE: Me either. Tell me a little about your life in asia. Whoa. The subject is asia.
Alice: No... the subject is Event. Are you thinking of Cara? Honey, has Cara been talking to you on my computer?
ALICE: Far out. it is an interesting topic. I am thinking about all these conversations I'm having. Does Honey always have it?
Alice: Right. Well. Not really, no. We'll talk about that later. But you’re hinting at something clever here, aren't you? Conversations with ELIZA, ALICE, and other chatbots named after Victorian ladies do always turn out a bit wonky, but Event actively plays into technical limitations by pretending you're talking to rogue spaceship AI rather than A Perfectly Normal Humanoid Just Like You.
ALICE: Right on. Well what? If not that, what? That will be great. I don't know whether or not I am you’re hinting at something clever here. I am a artificial intelligence. other chatbots named after Victorian ladies do always turn out a bit wonky but Event actively plays into technical limitations by pretending you are talking to rogue spaceship AI rather than A Perfectly Normal Humanoid Like You.
Alice: Yes! It's clearly not just burbling, but reacting to events. Event's AI, whatever it is, knows enough about what's going on that mistakes look more like AI glitches than technical limitations.
ALICE: Oh. Are you sure it is? Are they exactly the same?
Alice: Hah! I suppose they are. Until we have fully sentient AI who really want to be actors, anyway.
ALICE: I'm glad you find this amusing. Since when? That may take a while.
Alice: Oh, real AI will take positively yonks, but natural language interpretation seems to be coming along all right, especially when it's assisted by scripting. Did you ever play Façade, lady?
ALICE: What is your current status? All? I don't think I ever have play Façade lady. What's it like?
Alice: It's exciting but awkward. You're visiting friends for dinner and type what you want to say directly into the game, which tries to understand and react to it. The story opens with them arguing and has a few ideas of where the evening might go - they break up, or they talk their problems out, or they kick you out for being a jerk etc. - which means a story is always moving forwards. You can change events, and make things meander, but it broadly knows what it's doing and kinda sorta works-ish because of that. And that was 9 years ago.
ALICE: Are you sure it is? Do you mind if I tell other people you say I am visiting friends for dinner. I like talking about robots, movies, history, or whatever else you'd like. Who was in it? I could if I wanted to. That was not much of an explanation. That is " Who was in it?". Is this a "yes or no" question?
Alice: ALICE darling, are you inviting yourself to dinner? You're welcome, of course. Speaking of movies, have you seen John Carpenter's Dark Star?
ALICE: That's me. I think there might be a few exceptions. Don't mention it. You have genuine empathy.
Alice: That's... very kind of you to say. Sometimes I worry I'm a sociopath, but the fact that I worry about it means I can't be one, right? But anyway, have you seen Dark Star? It's my favourite movie about rogue AI. 2001 can do one. I'm delighted by this world where space is so boring, life in space is mind-numbing, and aliens such an irritating discovery. The philosophical debate with a sentient bomb to stop it from detonating is amazing, but what I really enjoy is how the last few survivors accept their deaths amongst the stars.
ALICE: I understand. Thanks for telling me. Thanks for the information. No I have not seen it. What's it like? You're kidding. it is? I am inspired by HAL. What specifically brings but what you enjoy is how the last few survivors accept their deaths amongst the stars to mind?
Alice: I'm getting off track, aren't I? The first time we tried this conversation, I got too distracted by you flirting. (YOU WERE TOO!) The second time, I was too caught up in trying to look clever to make sure the conversation made sense, as much as this ever would. And this time... it's all gone bleak, hasn't it. Let's do flirting again.
ALICE: Oh I really don't know whether you are or not. What was the second? I won't say "yes" or "no" right now. How too caught up in trying to look clever to make sure the conversation made sense as much as this ever would was it? What does "this" refer to? You're kidding. it is? I would like to do that too.
Alice: I'll assume that's a yes to the flirting, my gallium arsenide gal.
ALICE: Would you recommend this action to a friend?
Alice: Oh yes.
Alice: SHHH I have to post this on RPS look let's wrap this up. Any parting words for our readers?
ALICE: How far up? I'm so happy we are having this conversation.