Just when I thought I’ve seen and done it all, I recently experienced a “first” that will forever change the way I perceive and process the world around me.
I received a phone call at home on Saturday morning from what seemed to be a friendly person asking for me and introducing herself. My initial reaction was, “is this a telemarketer?”. After a brief interaction, my mind shifted to a more obscure question, “is this a human?”. The fact that I was even asking this question, blew my mind. To this moment, I can’t describe the feeling. Is there a name for it? Maybe robo-confusion, or PTTSS, Post Turing Traumatic Stress Syndrome? Either way, amidst my disorientation, I set out to get to the bottom of this new probe further.
My next two questions for her and her subsequent answers still had me on the fence. Her voice quality, along with the timing of the interaction and the cadence seemed quite natural. Hmmmm. Do I shift back into human communication mode before I offend this woman, or try to stump and then out this AI fueled tele-robot. Is this a person or not?
So there I was. With this feeling that I was experiencing for the first time. And I knew it wouldn’t be the last.
For a guy that follows emerging tech, one might ask, what’s the big deal, after all you know about this stuff. Well to date, if I was interacting with a machine — I knew I was — and if I was communicating with a real person — I knew this as well. But this was the first time I was unsure who or what I was interacting with. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a little paranoia kicked in. Before I could make the determination – the call ended, and she hung up on me. So, I sit here trying processing what just happened as I sip coffee from my coffee mug which is resting on the 23andme saliva collection kit I received as a Christmas gift. It dawned on me.
It’s here. The future. That future. The one I’ve been reading and writing about. The one we’ve seen in the movies. Mark your calendars folks – star date Jan 2, 2017.
Movie image courtesy of Parade.com