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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Google's 'Sentient' Chatbot Is Our Self-Deceiving Future

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A ouija board planchette superimposed over a background of 1s and 0s.

More and more, we will cast AIs as sentient beings, or as religious totems, or as oracles affirming prior obsessions, or as devils drawing us into temptation.

Credit: The Atlantic/Getty Images

Human existence has always been, to some extent, an endless game of Ouija, where every wobble we encounter can be taken as a sign. Now our Ouija boards are digital, with planchettes that glide across petabytes of text at the speed of an electron. Where once we used our hands to coax meaning from nothingness, now that process happens almost on its own, with software spelling out a string of messages from the great beyond.

The rise of the machines could remain a distant nightmare, but the Hyper-Ouija seems to be upon us. People could soon become so transfixed by compelling software bots that we assign all manner of intention to them.

From The Atlantic
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