The ghost in the machine

This post is by Seth Godin from Seth's Blog

“The computer wants you to click this button.”

“It thinks you asked for something else.”

“He’s mad at you.”

Thousands of generations ago, we evolved our way into a magnificent hack. It turns out that we can more safely navigate the world by imagining that other people have a little voice in their heads just as we have one in ours.

By projecting the narrative voice to others, we avoided fights that could be fatal. It’s a powerful shorthand that allows us to use limited brain processing power to interact in complicated cultural situations.

It worked so well, we began applying it to dogs, to lizards and even to the weather. It’s a great place to find the origins of bad decisions and superstitions.

The truth, of course, is that your cat doesn’t have a voice in her head. But we still act like she does. And that cloud doesn’t really have an angry face in it, a bug we see so often that we even gave it a name. Pareidolia is proof that the mistake is almost universal.

And now, AI chat is putting the common sense of this to the test. We know exactly what the code base is, and yet within minutes, most normal humans are happily chatting away, bringing the very emotions to the computer that we’d bring to another person. We rarely do this with elevators or door handles, but once a device gets much more complicated than that, we start to imagine the ghost (Read more...)