Marshfield woman studies technology’s effect on humans

By Matt Conn
Marshfield News-Herald
The refrigerator said you were out of milk.

Your virtual pet needs more virtual water or it will die.

And technology has further fused to human social interaction, perplexing an expanding cadre of researchers.

http://www.wisinfo.com/newsherald/mnhlocal/293038940633604.shtml

By Matt Conn
Marshfield News-Herald
The refrigerator said you were out of milk.

Your virtual pet needs more virtual water or it will die.

And technology has further fused to human social interaction, perplexing an expanding cadre of researchers.

“We don’t understand the psychological ramifications of that,” said Julie Hillan of Marshfield, creator of Frontiernumber4, an online publication that focuses on artificial intelligence. “Technology is developing so rapidly, we can’t keep up, even academically.”
That takes a multidisciplinary approach, including social sciences, neuroscience and some would even argue biology, said Hillan, 34.

“This is taking two ends of the spectrum,” she said. “There’s the very irrational psychological end and what you could say is the rational scientific end coming to an apex right now where there’s a whole new field of human/computer interaction.”
To learn more
For more information on artificial intelligence and its potential, visit frontiernumber4.com.

Such frontiers are being explored through the Artificial General Intelligence Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that describes its mission as creating powerful, ethically positive artificial general intelligence.
Founder Ben Goertzel, a former computer science research associate professor at the University of New Mexico, examined the distinction of human and artificial development in a recent contribution to Frontiernumber4.

Goertzel compared the social potential of artificial intelligence to that of primates, which heavily focus on social interaction, he said.

“It is not clear that AIs (artificial intelligences) will need to be social to this extent; however, from the point of view of pragmatically teaching AIs to think, as well as from the point of view of teaching them ethical behavior, building sociality into our AIs makes a lot of sense,” Goertzel wrote.

Artificial general intelligence, also called real artificial intelligence, is true thinking, rather than specialized thinking – such as pattern recognition and data mining – available in “smart software,” Hillan said.

And this thinking has unlimited possibilities.

A true artificial general intelligence would most likely be able to understand its own theories and programming and could therefore improve its own mind, Hillan said.

Hillan left Marshfield for Seattle last week to improve her own mind, studying at the University of Washington to earn a doctorate in technical communication. She eventually hopes to be influential in incorporating irrational human aspects into intelligent agents, such as sophisticated robots.

“It interested me, how humans interact with these things,” she said. “I think it’s a very exciting new field.”
Matt Conn can be reached at 384-3131 or 800-967-2087, ext. 328, or at matt.conn@cwnews.net.