1696: AI Research
Title text: Lambda calculus? More like SHAMbda calculus, amirite?
Developing artificial intelligence (AI) has been a challenge for a long time. Even to develop one with the intelligence of a six-year-old child would be a great milestone, and presumably a stepping stone on the path to making one with the intelligence of an adult human.
In this comic, Randall/Cueball jokingly suggests that in order to accomplish this goal, one can give him an AI that's already as smart as an adult, and let him teach it childish and silly things. He is shown teaching it dumb jokes, much like the ones a sassy six-year-old would make, as the first "fart" joke where artificial is changed to fartificial.
The humor in the comic is that Randall is essentially accomplishing the present goal of a six-year-old-equivalent AI by starting with the final goal, which is a full human intelligence, and making it dumber, just by teaching it poor humor. This is not unlike the old joke, "The easiest way to make a small fortune on Wall Street [or similar] is to start with a large one."
"Updog" refers to a light-hearted practical joke in which the perpetrator casually uses the neologism 'updog' in a sentence ("Hey, I'm going to get some updog, you want any?"). The unsuspecting listener is expected to be curious about the meaning of the neologism and ask the perpetrator its meaning, specifically in the format "What's 'updog'?", inadvertently invoking the highly casual greeting of "What's up, dawg?". The perpetrator then draws attention to this by replying along the lines of "Not much, you?", causing the target to realize the foolish thing they just said. Other neologisms used in the context of this joke include 'updoc', 'snoo', and 'samatta' ("What's up, doc?", "What's new?", and "What's the matter?", respectively). Updog is mainly an American joke not particularly well known in other English-speaking countries.
In the title text there is a joke on lambda calculus, where lambda is changed to SHAMbda. Lambda calculus is an area of mathematical logic and theoretical computer science. It is a formal language which can express computation and evaluation. It is Turing Complete, which means it can do any computation which can be executed by a computer. However, it is very simple, consisting only of two primitive notions: abstraction, which is forming a unary function (a function that takes one argument) and application which is applying a function to an input value. For example, a function which squares a given number can be written λx.x². Here the λ indicates an abstraction (hence the name lambda calculus), the x is the input value and the output is x². As an example of application, if we apply this function to 5, we get (λx.x²)(5) = 5² = 25. The title text makes fun of this by inserting the word "Sham" into the phrase, a word used to describe a trick or con; essentially, it denies that such calculus is useful or valid.
The title text finishes with amirite, short for am I right? which is often used to finish sentences on web forums, to prevent anyone saying you are wrong. Not very mature to use in a serious discussion, so very fit to use for a AI that tries to emulate the intelligence of a six-year-old.
- [Cueball, is gesturing, with his hands held out in front of him, towards a large computer console with several screens, buttons and unreadable text. They are talking. The computers reply is indicated to come from the console with a zigzag line, rather than the straight lines for Cueball.]
- Cueball: Then you say "More like fartificial intelligence!"
- Computer: Understood.
- Cueball: Great! Now let me teach you about "updog".
- [Caption beneath the panel:]
- AI tip: To develop a computer with the intelligence of a six-year-old child, start with one as smart as an adult and let me teach it stuff.
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