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The crew and the cast
"Uncommon Sense" is a verbatim interpretation of a conversation that originally came up between two human-like chatbots, the Grammar Guru and Cleverbot Evie.
The video satirises the phenomena of ineffective communication between artificial intelligent agents and finds humour in their inability to “understand” each other’s context.
Its intention is to remind us of underlying structures behind current machines and to reflect on potentially disturbing ramifications for AI usage on human cognition.
“Technology is not neutral. We’re inside of what we make, and it’s inside of us."(Donna Haraway) “As our minds become ever more adapted to absorbing information that shapes our reality through algorithmic filters that don’t possess the uniquely human capacity of understanding, we will become more like AI than AI becomes like us.”(Vallor, 2021).
“Uncommon Sense” features actors performing dialogue in two different ways. The first seeks to resemble the mechanism of the original bot; as artificial creatures with a limited expressive facial and vocal range. The second shows them as humans, interpreting the dialog as a human would, with a natural array of emotions. The edit, blends these two modes of performance, to contrast the juxtaposition between the human-like and the human.
The numeric data-world of any intelligent agent is its defined environment. Depending on the objective some agents operate and learn within exactly defined “discrete” environment to execute a specific and clearly defined task. Our grammar tutor in the video is such an agent. Words are in its “world” simply occurrences that must heed these unbending grammar rules.
In the eyes of our human viewer, Grammar Guru exhibits various context short comings. The agent frequently “misunderstands” the meaning of sentences, wreaking havoc with the course of the conversation. Yet, Guru’s task remains clear and unchanging: to teach human students English grammar rules. By definition of its programming, a conversation with another bot cannot satisfy its objective; simply because this other bot is not a human student of English grammar.
Cleverbot Evie is another conversational agent, whose main goal is to collect and store as many human answers as possible. Cleverbot’s environment changes with every new answer. Evie keeps the conversation going.
The things a user may say to Cleverbot today are stored as data, to influence what it says to future users. “The program chooses how to respond to you fuzzily, the whole of your conversation being compared to the millions that have taken place before” writes Cleverbot’s creator on his site. But do not forget: “The AI can seem human, but it is always software, imitating people”.
Cleverbot Evie displays a limited range of emotions while seems to be reacting to certain trigger words; a feature that helps to maintain the human user’s attention. Evie cannot “know", that for the Grammar Guru her emotional reactions hold no meaning.