OPEN ON TICKING STOPWATCH. DISSOLVE TO STEVE KROFT ENTERING THE GIDEON REESE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE LAB.
STEVE: For years, Artificial Intelligence was a promising possibility--one whose promise was never kept. In fact, according to science writer Marc Gregorio, the more we learned about the nature of natural intelligence, the farther it seemed to recede from the artificial variety.
DISSOLVE TO STEVE WITH MARC GREGORIO IN CONFERENCE ROOM.
STEVE: So tell me, Marc, just exactly what is Artificial Intelligence?
“Oh, tell us, Marc!” crooned Vince, sprawled on Marc’s living room sofa with Claudia scrunched in next to him.
Marc grinned and flipped him the finger. He’d gathered a few friends to watch the broadcast in his condo. Besides Vince and Claudia, there were Alison and Mitch Roszak. Molly was performing in Florida, but she had taken advantage of the time zone difference to watch her DVRed copy at the same time as them. Marc wished she were in the room, sharing the pizza and beer and the wise-ass commentary while the segment ran.
MARC: …any conversation you have with a true AI computer won’t be based on some extensive tree of branching phrases and sentences. It needs to be able to put together original sentences.
STEVE: Wasn’t that accomplished some time ago, though?
MARC: Back in the 1960’s, there was a therapist program called Eliza. If you said, “I talked to my mother this morning,” it would say, “Tell me about your mother, Steve.” You might say, “She’s getting on in years and I worry about her.” And it would reply, “Tell me more about your worries about your mom.” Pretty soon you forget you’re talking to computer program.
STEVE: Was it a good therapist?
MARC: I suppose. Hundreds of users found themselves hooked; they swore they were “making progress.”
STEVE: Was transference much of a problem?
MARC: (Laughs) Did anyone fall in love with Eliza? Possibly! But to get back to the question “What is intelligence,” Eliza didn’t have it. Big Blue doesn’t have it. Even Watson doesn’t get jokes the way people do.
STEVE: Because it has no sense of humor. It’s almost as if humans have a kind of species prejudice that says, “If a computer can do it, it can’t be intelligence. It’s just clever programming.”
MARC: A true AI computer shouldn’t have to rely on programming. It should be able to learn about the world from its own experience.
STEVE: Experience. Oh boy.
Mitch Roszak leaned forward, straining to hear the TV. He waved his arms, trying to quiet down all the levity in the room.
Marc tossed a kernel of popcorn at him. “Forget it. You can watch it at home later.”
Vince belched. “I’m sure you recorded Marc’s words of wisdom for posterity. Or if not, he’ll be happy to sell you a DVD of the entire program, autographed, of course.”
“I promise we’ll get together and have a serious talk about the science,” Marc said as Mitch grinned, leaned back and gave in to the social imperative.
STEVE: So there’s a--an entity that’s intelligent, based on your own intellect?
MARC: Actually, my entire persona. Would you like to meet him?
STEVE: Sure. What’s he like?
MARC: He’s as sensible and as smart as anyone you’d meet out in the world. Thanks to his Internet access, he’s up to date on all the latest news and scientific developments--and I suppose even the nonsense that floats around on the web.
STEVE: If I tell him a joke, he’ll get it?
MARC: If you tell it well, he’ll even laugh.
DISSOLVE TO A CORNER OF THE ROOM, WHERE STEVE AND MARC ARE SEATED. BETWEEN THEM IS A COMPUTER MONITOR ON A STAND.
MARC: Adam? Are you there?
ADAM’S HEAD AND SHOULDERS APPEAR ON THE MONITOR. IT’S LIKE A TELECONFERENCE WITH A REMOTE CORRESPONDENT.
ADAM: Hi, Marc, hello Steve. I’d shake hands if I had any.
STEVE: Hello and welcome to the world.
“Jesus Christ!” exclaimed Vince. Like Marc’s other guests, he’d never seen Adam until this moment. “He fuckin’ looks just like you!”
Alison smirked. “No, he looks more like your older and smarter brother.”
“He does, doesn’t he?” said Marc, too delighted to defend himself.
Claudia leaned closer, caught up in the spectacle.
Mitch shook his head. He looked over at Marc. “Congratulations.”
“I wish I could take credit for the advance. My part isn’t all that significant.”
“I disagree. It’s your intelligence that gave Adam such a huge advantage. Just be glad Kornfeld didn’t scan someone like your cousin Vinnie.”
“Hey, watch it!” said Vince with a frown.
Ignoring the phony threat, Mitch took a slug from his bottle of Fat Tire and turned back to the program.
STEVE: …So besides preparing future wafers for uploads, what’s next for you?
ADAM: Oh, you know: I’ll be doing the talk show circuit, then I’m collaborating with Marc on a book--I suppose you could call it my autobiography.
MARC: To clarify: Not my autobiography, but Adam’s. The story of Adam’s birth and growth, along with some of the background science.
STEVE: You’ve never collaborated on a book before. How’s that going to be?
ADAM: I think we’ll be of one mind on most issues.
MARC: (rolls his eyes) After the book, we’ll be involved in a documentary on the same subject, and there’s talk of--
ADAM: Let me tell it. I might become a regular correspondent on the Discovery Channel, covering the Internet and related issues.
MARC: I’ll be on occasionally as well, discussing developments in Artificial Intelligence and other cognitive issues.
STEVE: Well, congratulations to both of you. What I can’t get over is--and I hope you’ll forgive me for saying this--but how ordinary this extraordinary development now seems. Talking to Adam feels completely natural and unremarkable. He’s very much like you.
MARC: Right. Now I have a brother.
ADAM: We just can’t hug or give each other noogies.
FADE TO BLACK. GO TO COMMERCIALS
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish