Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Some thought concerning a rapidly emerging internet of things 9: fully automated systems and the implications of effective removal of direct human oversight 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on July 8, 2013

This is my ninth posting to a series on a rapidly emerging new level of online involvement and connectedness: the internet of things (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 211 and loosely following for Parts 1-8.)

I began a discussion of automated and fully automated, and even functionally autonomous systems in Part 8, where I focused on one of the foundation elements that would go into making them possible: artificial intelligence. And to continue that discussion, here focusing on application of the Turing test paradigm to the aggregate behavior of a networked system as a whole:

• If a networked system of devices displays a sufficiently fine-meshed capability to respond meaningfully to a wide enough range of possible queries, it becomes impossible to tell from its responses alone that it is in fact a networked system of devices communicating and not another human intellect.
• And this capacity to so respond and interact need not be localized, or even significantly concentrated in any one or few executive level nodes, even if communications flow in and out of the network per se is in some way centrally managed. Information content that is created, organized and shared with the human tester who is trying to identify if they are communicating with another person or not, could arise from multiple and even myriad sources. And each such actively interacting and involved node need only contribute limited functionality to the collective creation of an overall perceived intelligence, by providing data of very focused and limited meaningful context and value to that collective effort.

Ability to behave intelligently and to be perceived as having true intelligence is an emergent property that develops out of simpler elements and information flow contributions that in and of themselves would not be considered as showing intelligence.

• A fully automated or even fully autonomous system can perform to high standards of reliability and precision without exhibiting anything like intelligence as would be identified by a Turing test. The only requirement is that its range of control through decision making and rules-based follow-through, be sufficiently limited in scope.
• The more wide-ranging and even open-ended the range of activities and decision points that such a system has to manage, the closer it is going to have to come to being able to successfully pass a Turing test standard. Here “more wide ranging and open-ended” is measured as capacity to reliably function across a meaningfully wide range of contingencies and circumstances.
• A fully open-ended system for range of activity and responsibility is going to have to be able to successfully pass a very stringent Turing test where the human tester is free to raise questions and elicit responses that address a correspondingly open-ended range of conversational topics.

Exception handling comes in here and so does capacity to learn, and on an operational level so do the issues of how command and control oversight are developed and managed. I am going to address them in my next series installment. And I am going to develop that posting as a point of connection between this series and a second, concurrently posted series: Commoditizing the Standardized, Commoditizing the Individually Customized (see Business Strategy and Operations – 2, postings 363 and particularly its Part 12: neural nets and self-assembling systems.) Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its continuation page, and at Social Networking and Business.

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