September 20, 2013
University Theme ExploredBrian Christian, author of the book "The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches us About Being Alive," spoke Wednesday evening for this year's common reading lecture.
The lecture coincided with this year's university theme, "Technology in Our Lives." One of the entries in this year's common reading text was a selection from Christian's book.
The book was based on a test he became involved with in 2009 called the Turing test.
In this test, the human subject, also known as a human confederate, has a five-minute text chat with a scientist. The scientist also has a conversation with a computer program that has been created to mimic human conversation. The scientist then has to judge which conversation was with the computer and which was with the human.
In the test, two awards are given out. The programmer who created the computer with the highest score gets the Most Human Computer award and the human with the highest score gets the Most Human Human award. When Christian participated in the test in 2009, he won the Most Human Human award.
In his presentation, Christian talked about the difference between a state-less and a state-full conversation. In a state-less conversation, the answer only has to do with the last part of the conversation, instead of the history of the conversation.
Christian said that it is easier for computers to imitate a state-less conversation than a state-full conversation.
This is because they only have to read the last line of text and come up with a question based on it.
Christian also spoke on authentication. He explained it is easier for other people or computers to find and copy content rather than structure or form. Form includes things such as a signature, gait, personality, diction and syntax, while content is just information.
Christian explained that since people are moving away from face-to-face communication or talking on the phone and towards texting, emailing and other digital forms of communication there is a lot more content than form in communication.
Christian explained that due to the focus on digital communication, the world and everyday life is becoming one huge Turing test.
When we receive emails or texts or Facebook posts, it is up to us to decide whether or not the person on the other end is who they say they are because there is no proof, Christian said.
He said that he feels people should have a certain amount of concern when looking at new technology, but progress should not stop.
Consumers should know how the products they use work.
When asked about where technology is going in the future, Christian talked about an automotive revolution. He explained that in the next 10 years, self-driving cars will be adopted.
Christian said that this innovation would drastically reduce the number of fatalities due to accidents.
One of the dangers Christian sees with computer science is personal data becoming public and being concentrated into fewer places.
Enactus is a community service-oriented group on campus that raises money to support ongoing projects. Formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), Enactus uses the principles of free market economics to educate and improve the lives of others.
The current project that Enactus is focusing on is Stronger Than the Storm, an event that will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m in the Benjamin Apple Meeting Rooms.
This project will raise money for the people and businesses that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012.
Activities include a potato sack contest, limbo contest, pong skill tournament, water balloon contest and dressing up as a favorite New Jersey personality, such as Snookie from "Jersey Shore."
There will be prizes for the winners, such as gift certificates and coupons.
Hurricane Sandy was referred to as "The Perfect Storm" due to its massive size for an east coast storm.
It hit Atlantic City, N.J., producing winds over 100 mph and a catastrophic storm surge of more than 12 feet.
Enactus President senior Cameron Dougherty said: "Over 20 percent of the student body resides in New Jersey, and many more of them have friends or family that live there. Between that and the fact that there is over $36 billion worth of damage, the need is still there, and the people affected are all around us."
Enactus organizes different projects set out to help people in these kinds of conditions. Enactus teams perform economic-based community service projects and present their projects at competitions.
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