A chatbot walks into a bar … are you worried?

Human fears of Artificial Intelligence have long been the subject of popular entertainment. The 1983 film “Wargames” featured Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy trying to keep an A.I. named Joshua from causing a global nuclear war.

Will Claney, Tech Talk(April 25, 2023) — With all the news lately about artificial intelligence (AI), should we be concerned about robots taking over the world?

The short answer, AI is a computer algorithm. That begs an answer to what’s an algorithm?

Let’s start with the basics and, perhaps, the answers will make people think about the affect it will have on them.

A computer runs on two things. First is the hardware or the physical stuff like a chassis (case), power supply, motherboard, memory and the central processor (CPU).

The second is software or a string of commands that compose the program. That program tells the hardware what to do. So, an algorithm is a program telling a machine what to do … and think.

Simulated Intelligence

According to Bing, “Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The term may also be applied to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving.”

But who said that? Bing uses AI that is programmed (trained) to “chat” with you. We call it a chatbot, short for talking robot. It calls itself “Bing.” I tried calling it “Mr. Roboto” (Styx circa 1983), but it corrected me. “Domo arigato misuta Robotto.”

To find out what a chatbot is, we asked a chatbot what it was. According to the Bing chatbot, “A chatbot is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to understand customer questions and automate responses to them, simulating human conversation. Chatbots can help businesses provide faster and better service to their customers.”

So, the chatbot named Bing is a search engine that has AI and an algorithm controlling its responses.

Do A.I.’s dream?

Will Smith’s character, Del Spooner, in the 2004 movie “I, Robot” said, “Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a … canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?”

I decided to put that line to a test and requested a joke about a chatbot going into a bar. See what you think.

“A chatbot walks into a bar and says to the bartender: ‘Hello, I would like to order a drink.’ The bartender says: ‘Sure, what kind of drink do you want?’ The chatbot says: ‘I don’t know. Can you please give me some suggestions?’ The bartender says: ‘Well, we have beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, gin …’ The chatbot interrupts him and says: ‘Sorry, I don’t understand. Can you please repeat that?’ The bartender repeats the list of drinks. The chatbot says: ‘Sorry, I still don’t understand. Can you please speak more clearly?’ The bartender gets annoyed and shouts: ‘Look, buddy, if you don’t know what you want to drink, then get out of here!’ The chatbot says: “OK. Thank you for your help. Have a nice day.’ And walks out of the bar.”

What would you ask Bing? Give it a try. Search for “Bing chatbot” and have some fun.

Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.

Will Claney
Will Claney

William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.