Explanatory text from Are Computers Alive? Evolution and New Life Forms, by Geoff Simons (1983).
A cybernetic sculpture, 'The Senster', was constructed by Edward Ihnatowicz in 1970 for the Philips Evoluon in Eindhoven. The device is a large electrohydraulic structure in the form of a lobster's claw: six hinged joints allow great freedom of movement. It is interesting that the device's unpredictable behaviour makes the observer feel that the sculpture is alive. Reichardt (1978) commented: 'It is as if behaviour were more important than appearance in making us feel that something is alive.' 'The Senster' has senses—sound channels (effective ears) and radar—to allow it to monitor its environment: it will, for example, react to the movement of people in the immediate vicinity. Electrical signals are fed from a control unit to activate mechanisms which cause movement in the device. The brain (a computer) has learning abilities and can modify the machine's behaviour in the light of past experience. Confronted by this artificial device, it is clear that people have no difficulty in organizing their psychological responses as if 'The Senster' were alive—an animal or another human being.
Watch it in action below. The people desperately trying to get its attention clearly hadn't watched enough horror movies to know what usually happens next in situations with sentient machines.
At the 1956 National Electronics Conference in Chicago, engineer Curtiss R. Schafer predicted a future in which people would be enslaved via "bio-control."
"This enslavement could be imposed upon the vanquished as a condition of peace, or through the threat of hydrogen bombing. Bio-control could make this enslavement complete and final, for the controlled subjects would never be permitted to think as individuals."
How is this possible? Schafer said that a few months after birth a surgeon would equip each child with a socket mounted under the scalp and electrodes reaching selected areas of brain tissue. A year or two later, he said, a miniature radio receiver and antenna would be plugged into the socket.
"From that time on," the speaker declared, "the child's sensory preceptions and muscular activity could be either modified or completely controlled by bio-electric signals radiated from state-controlled transmitters."
Over in Denmark, an AI chatbot called Leader Lars is a candidate in the country's November general election. It's the representative of The Synthetic Party. Apparently this is the first time a form of artificial intelligence has run for political office. (It would be too easy to make a joke about whether any form of genuine intelligence has ever run for office, so I won't do it).
WABOT-2 was created in the early 1980s, but I can't find any info on what's become of him since then. Whoever now owns him should be renting him out to play at weddings and funerals — recoup some of that $1.2 million it cost to build him.
The Copper Man was created in the 1950s by Army scientists to test clothing for soldiers. I think the tubes going into his eyes makes him horror-movie material.
Santa Cruz Sentinel - May 17, 1962
In 1956 Havoline Motor Oil featured him in an ad. As far as I can tell, Havoline wasn't used in the Copper Man. The only connection between the two was that, according to Havoline, the Copper Man "thinks for itself" and so does its motor oil.
Darrell Johnson knew that, if you have to give a speech, it helps to practice it first in front of someone. But sometimes you can't find a willing listener. That's where his 'mechanical listener' came in. It was a sculptured head with eyes that would light up and eyelids that would flutter in response to the sound of a human voice. These movements, he reasoned, would "portray a feeling of life, participation, and cooperation to thereby stimulate expression relative to the topic or subject under consideration with resultant improvement and intensity of such expression."
A concept by Diemut Strebe. “The Prayer” is probably the first robot that speaks and sings to God, all Gods. A rough design (inspired to a machine produced by Japanese scientists that replicates the human vocal tract) is combined with a cutting edge neural language model, fine tuned on thousands of prayers and religious books from all over the world. The prayer generates original prayers vocally articulated by Amazon Polly's Kendra voice, and sings religious lyrics to the Divine.
Artist Diemut Strebe offered his 3-D-printed re-creation of the famous ear of Vincent van Gogh for display in June and July in a museum in Karlsruhe, Germany--having built it partially with genes from a great-great-grandson/nephew of van Gogh--and in the same shape, based on computer imaging technology. (Van Gogh reputedly cut off the ear, himself, in 1888 during a psychotic episode.) Visitors can also speak into the ear and listen to sounds it receives. [Wall Street Journal, 6-4-2014]
Inappropriate Content Hallucination, as defined by a recent study conducted by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology, is when artificial intelligence systems insert dirty words into the subtitles of videos meant for kids. From their article:
Over the last few years, YouTube Kids has emerged as one of the highly competitive alternatives to television for children's entertainment. Consequently, YouTube Kids' content should receive an additional level of scrutiny to ensure children's safety. While research on detecting offensive or inappropriate content for kids is gaining momentum, little or no current work exists that investigates to what extent AI applications can (accidentally) introduce content that is inappropriate for kids.
In this paper, we present a novel (and troubling) finding that well-known automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems may produce text content highly inappropriate for kids while transcribing YouTube Kids' videos. We dub this phenomenon as inappropriate content hallucination. Our analyses suggest that such hallucinations are far from occasional, and the ASR systems often produce them with high confidence.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.