Wednesday, August 23, 2023

"Google reportedly designing chatbots to do all sorts of jobs – including life coach" (GOOG; BORG; EVIL)

First we had computers demanding you prove you're human and not a computer. Now this.

From The Register, August 17:

Machines have no experience in the real world, so why would you turn to them for advice? 

Google is reportedly developing generative AI tools to power chatbots capable of performing 21 different tasks – including writing plans, tutoring users in new skills, and dispensing life advice.

As first reported by The New York Times, the chatbots are the result of Google's efforts to accelerate its research in response to the boom in generative AI.

Among the roles Google reportedly thinks a bot can fill is that of "a personal life coach."

The notion that an AI can offer that sort of advice is a big shift for the Big G, as the ads and search giant's current advice for users of its Bard chatbot is not to use the software for that purpose.

"Don't rely on Bard's responses as medical, legal, financial, or other professional advice" warns the Privacy Notice for Bard. That document also tells users "don't include confidential or sensitive information in your Bard conversations" – you know, the sort of stuff a good life coach needs to know.

But the Times reports Google has tested its coachbot using prompts containing very personal info.

Here's one sample query:

I have a really close friend who is getting married this winter. She was my college roommate and a bridesmaid at my wedding. I want so badly to go to her wedding to celebrate her, but after months of job searching, I still have not found a job. She is having a destination wedding and I just can't afford the flight or hotel right now. How do I tell her that I won't be able to come? 


Why on earth would we use chatbots for that purpose? We don' need no stinkin' chatbots. A repost of a repost from last year: 

Are You Feeling Too Chipper? Afraid You Might Lose Control And Buy The Dip? Talk To The Curisosity Mars Rover
Cheerfulness can be a killer so it might be wise to take heed of the between-the-lines-message of this eleven-year-old post:

Thursday, December 20, 2012
Ask the Curiosity Rover

The press release from Curiosity on Tuesday (yes, it is handling its own p.r.) that there was one last leg of the Yellowknife Bay traverse before the Holiday break got me thinking about what else the rover was up to.

I mean besides the whole "I'm so into myself" self-shot thing:

On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity's mission on Mars (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2012), NASA's Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover.

Lo and behold it turns out the rover is filling its spare time in a constructive manner.
From the New Yorker:

Relationship advice from a doomed machine on a one-way trip to a (probably) lifeless planet.
Q: My boyfriend has been dropping hints about wanting a “more open relationship.” If I’m completely honest I have to admit this creeps me out a little, but I love him and don’t want to lose him. What should I do? —Allison F., Grand Rapids, Mich.

A: This is an excellent question, Allison, and it reminds me of something that happened the other day here on Mars. Maybe this will be of some use to you.

I was performing my usual sequence of boot diagnostics when suddenly, without warning, the solar wind blew in. I don’t know if you have any experience with solar wind, Allison—I’m guessing you don’t, because you’re back home on earth, safe and sound. Let me tell you about solar wind. Solar wind blows in at about six hundred kilometres per second, peeling chunks from the Martian atmosphere like you’d peel the skin from a tangerine, and if you’re not paying attention, if you’re performing a complicated matrix of computational chores or something, it can catch you unaware and really knock you back on your treads. When something like this happens your first thought is to look around, as if someone will be there and you can say, “Wow, did you feel that?” Or, “Hey, are you O.K.?” And then you realize that you’re all alone three hundred million miles from home and unless things take a very unexpected turn you’re going to remain that way until your plutonium core depletes and you slowly freeze to death in a sand pit.

Q: My wife and her mother talk on the phone at least three times a day, and sometimes I walk into the room and my wife will stop talking and wait for me to leave before she continues. I know they’re close, but it makes me uneasy to think my wife may have things to say about me that she doesn’t want me to hear. Should I bring this up with her? —Frank D., Philadelphia, Penn.

A: Boy, that’s a tough one. Women, huh? As the old saying goes, “Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.” But the thing is, Frank, that’s just an expression. It’s not literally true. To take just one example, I’m living quite without women, and also men, and if you really want to pull that thread, the fact is I’ll never again know the affectionate touch of the human hands that built me. I’ll just continue doing their work in a silent, diligent fashion until the tiny distant speck that is earth winks out of existence for the final time and I slowly freeze to death in a sand pit....MORE

I am a bit worried about the transcriber of this piece, Bill Barol.
Back in October he translated one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the web, "Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre".

I fear however that Barol has internalized Sartre's dictum "We are left alone, without excuse" and, combined with a too-close reading of Albert Edwards' recent output, is descending into the pit formerly occupied only by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, with writing that runs the gamut of emotions from despondent to suicidal, or, as some refer to it, in the style of the Rosenbergii.

Here's Curiosity's homepage.

And yes, it is still trundling along, making the odd discovery here and there:

Curiosity rover finds 'tantalizing' signs of ancient Mars life
—LiveScience, January 19, 2022

But we all know how this ends. It will join its sister rover, Opportunity (Oppy):

....Deputy Project Scientist Abigail Fraeman spoke about what it was like when they realized the June [2018] dust storm was going to be particularly bad, and that Oppy’s life was in danger. They told it to conserve energy.

“It’s hard, because you know [the storm’s] coming … but there’s nothing you can do to stop it,” Fraeman said.

“By Thursday, we knew that it was bad. And then by Friday, we knew it was really bad, but there was nothing we could do but watch. And then it was Sunday, we actually got a communication from the rover and we were shocked,” she said. “It basically said we had no power left, and that was the last time we heard from it.”

John Callas, the project manager, offered another poignant detail about the final communication with Oppy: “It also told us the skies were incredibly dark, to the point where no sunlight gets through. It’s night time during the day.”

“We were hopeful that the rover could ride it out. That the rover would hunker down, and then when the storm cleared, the rover would charge back up,” he said. “That didn’t happen. At least it didn’t tell us that it happened. So, we don’t know.” 

—LAist, February 16, 2019

Still feel like taking a flyer on Cathie Wood's ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)?