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Redux: Marvin and the System


Would you trust an AI assistant? This is a question you’re going to have to answer sooner than later. And here’s a weird little story I wrote a while back about it. In case you missed it, enjoy now!


We live with machines. And our machines are getting smarter. They’re still very dumb, they do what we tell them to, and often not really all that well. But we’re teaching them. And I do mean “we.” When you tag your friends on Facebook, you’re teaching its facial recognition system what to look for in faces. When you click on ads or Google results you’re training its system to know what you like. Computer scientists are working on ways to make machines learn smarter, learn passively, make connections we never even thought of.

Alpha Go, an artificial intelligence trained to play Go, recently beat a Go grandmaster. This is a big deal, partially because Go is an extremely complicated game, but also because the system did things while playing that nobody expected. It made moves that seemed like mistakes, and twenty moves later were suddenly clearly not mistakes. Now imagine your computer could surprise you in that same way.

This week on my podcast we talked about artificial intelligence, and one of the things I’m really interested in exploring is how people interact with their machines. And so I wrote a little story. It’s a choose-your-own story*! Hopefully it’s fun.

You can play the game below.

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Images from Ishmael Al-Jazari’s manuscripts.


*I have been informed by Chooseco LLC that they own the trademark to the phrase “choose your own adventure” and that I am not allowed to use it without being sued. I would like to not be sued, so I have changed the phrase.

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