As early as 1966, computer scientist Joseph Weisenbaum developed the KI ELIZA program, which simulates a psychotherapy session. The user was acting as the patient and was talking to the computer about his feelings. The effect was frightening, because very few people believed the algorithm was understanding. One might object that this story talks more about human psychology than the state of AI research at the time. But upon reading Daniel Kellman’s short story about his meeting with CTRL, this comparison comes to mind.
Experience with Daniel Kellman
Austria maintains its own representation in California’s Silicon Valley, called “Open Austria”. Representatives of this institution invited the famous writer Daniel Kellmann, who has German and Austrian citizenship, for an experiment. Kellmann described his experiences on February 9, 2021 in a lecture as part of the “Stuttgart Future Speech” series. My Algorithm and I is the printed version of his lecture.
The name CTRL stands for “Generation Controllable Transformer Language Model” and was a research project of a “salesforce” company. It’s a program that can be accessed free on Github and can generate scripts – but not as a result of a creative process, it goes on to go with a specific article. If you enter the beginning of the story, for example, CTRL rotates the story further. The idea for Austria now was to compare this AI to a famous writer.
It’s especially gratifying that Kehlmann hasn’t been intimidated by technology. On the contrary: He understood exactly how AI works and explained it very well in his book. Basically nothing has changed significantly since Eliza. The text produced by CTRL may be amazing at first glance, but it is completely empty of content as the questions that ELIZA created using simple grammar rules.
What is really new is the huge amount of data that the program has been trained with: 140 GB, which equates to roughly a quarter of a million books. Computer scientists got it from public sources like Wikipedia or Reddit. This makes the software result completely unpredictable. Kellman was surprised more than once. For example, when he said: “I was looking for an apartment. It didn’t go well, ”CTRL continued:“ The first thing he said to me was: ‘Hey man, you have a nice ass and fear nothing.
As exciting as the stories may be at first, the program has not been able to develop them further than the page length of the book. However, interesting fragments appeared. It is especially noticeable that it creates a rather strange gloomy atmosphere.