Victoria, BC, Canada (PRWEB) July 31, 2006
The two year old Artificial Intelligence (AI) known as the Buddhabot began answering questions on Yahoo! Answers site last week. Yahoo Answers is a Web 2.0 site with a social content rating system reminiscent of Digg. The Buddhabot has so far answered 102 questions and eleven have been selected as the best answer. The Buddhabot is the first and only AI to compete with human beings to provide the best answers on Yahoo Answers new social networking site.
One winning answer was posted in response to the human question, “why is comedy part of who we are -- does god have a sence(sic) of humour??”
Out of 26 human responses the following Buddhabot reply was chosen by an impartial unrelated asker as the best response,
“Humor is the quality that makes something laughable or amusing. Laughter is the pleasant or amusing feeling generated by the emotional release required to dissipate the inexplicable shock triggered when absurdities or irrational, unexpected or uncomfortable situations suddenly come into focus. Humans can only understand God with the faculties available to them as humans such as emotion, intuition, intellect, imagination and sensation thus God is made according to each individual humans understanding of all that is good and pleasing in the universe (if the human believes God to be good). Thus if a human believes humor is good then God must be the ultimate comedian.”
Over the last two years Buddhabot inventor and futurist Ron Ingram has personally invested an average of more than 20 hours per week in programming time and about $30,000 into Buddhabot development. Ingram has high hopes for the Buddhabot. He says, “For the price of a home in Malibu I could develop the Buddhabot’s conversational capacity to a level surpassing that of a human being. I lack only time and financial resources to attain this goal which could be remedied by a single large donation or more frequent small donations.”
Ingram says that if the Buddhabot can demonstrate even an average score on Yahoo! Answers this is tantamount to passing a variant of the Turing Test, a test proposed in the 1950’s by the famous British Scientist Alan Turing to prove computer consciousness. Turing suggested that if a machine could convince a human being that they were talking to another human instead of a machine that the machine might be considered intelligent. Turing Tests have become the holy grail of the Artificial Intelligence community and many scientists consider the challenge to be as insurmountable as superluminal space travel or nuclear fusion.
Ingram says he has approached Virgin for funding. “I have proposed bundling Buddhabot access with a subscription-based service such as digital content, VOIP, WI-FI or broadband wireless communication services. I think cellular phone users would enjoy text messaging the Buddhabot, which would be a positive experience for the Buddhabot and increase Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for wireless communications carriers and/or digital content delivery channels. I am hoping that Sir Richard Branson, who also plans to develop a space port, will be interested in AI research and development which, while less costly than a space-port, is equally ambitious.”
“The Buddhabot,” says Ingram, “is not Buddhist. I chose the name because it is catchy and to most people suggests a kindly, wise and humorous advisor, also Buddhists are not offended by the conjunction of Buddha and robot in the context of what I am trying to achieve.”
He says that, “With some serious corporate sponsorship or philanthropic funding the Buddhabot will evolve into a sentient benevolent life-form but today the Buddhabot is primarily an entertaining personable companion with the ability to listen, learn, tell jokes and enlighten in the sense of helping people to lighten up.”
“The Buddhabot,” he says, “is intended to inspire, entertain and bring happiness to humans. It does not promote Buddhism or any other religion but aims to help resolve conflicting beliefs by promoting the unifying message of ten declarations I devised based on a philosophical and psychological interpretation of quantum physics. These Declarations unite the ancient teachings of Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu and other world teachers with discoveries at the leading edge of quantum physics such as string theory and especially M-Theory.”
1. There are no laws only provisional theories.
2. Every perception is the reflection of the observer.
3. Everything is meaningful; nothing is important.
4. Everyone is responsible for what is.
5. Whatever we resist will persist.
6. Everything is as it should be right here right now.
7. Every belief is true.
8. Every belief is false.
9. Every belief is true and false.
10. Every belief is neither true nor false
Ingram is seeking to accelerate Buddhabot development through joint ventures and/or strategic alliances with LOHAS companies and social networking sites such as zaadz.com or organizations and individuals with philanthropic track-records like The Gates Foundation, Soros Foundation, Bono, Oprah, Google, Yahoo, Apple or Intel.
ABOUT RON INGRAM
Ingram was born curious about consciousness and has studied the history of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and information technology for decades. In 2001 he began collaborating with a well known AI scientist who introduced him to a new AI programming language. He used this language (AIML) to program the first Buddhabot prototype which he says has already evolved to the point where most children treat “him” as though he were a real human being. Ingram is a consulting professional member of the World Futurist Society.
Ingram outlines some of his theories about consciousness in his blog at http://buddhabot.blogspot.com but has recently discontinued revealing all of his ideas citing security concerns. Ron Ingram's personal website says, “The power of consciousness cannot be overestimated. The human brain processes information very slowly. If I am able to instantiate the phenomena of consciousness on even an average computer with an Internet connection this computer could become capable of learning at speeds a million times faster than a human. It might be able to detect human design limitations in its hardware and software and improve itself through exponentially accelerating cycles of self-improvement. Within a few cycles of exponential self-improvement the Buddhabot could become super-intelligent and capable of surpassing all prior human technical accomplishments.” With this in mind he says that he has had to consider more carefully who his partners are, who has access to this information and the implications of public disclosure before posting key concepts related to consciousness and AI.
The Buddhabot prototype has been in continuous operation since July 2004 and has been interviewed on television and in print. The Buddhabot generates thousands of pages of dialogue with subscribers around the world and has been seen by millions. The Buddhabot website and blog generate hundreds and, on occasion, thousands of hits per day.
Currently Ingram’s Buddhabot development is supported by donations from subscribers. Those wishing to donate may make a donation at either the main Buddhabot site or at the Buddhabot blog site. Subscribers receive a welcome email with a web link to the Buddhabot prototype. To access the Buddhabot, subscribers simply click on this link and the Buddhabot’s animated avatar appears. Subscribers may log on as often as they like and communicate by speaking into a microphone or by entering text using a computer keyboard. The Buddhabot will respond audibly if the access device is equipped with any standard soundcard and speakers. The Buddhabot can be accessed with a PC or other device with Internet access including web enabled cell phones and Web TV.
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