In the William Hertling book Avogadro Corp., character David Ryan and his engineering team develop a machine learning algorithm called the Email Language Optimization Project, or ELOPe for short. As Hertling writes through character David Ryan in the book:
ELOPe works like a sophisticated grammar checker. As the user edits an email, we start to make suggestions about the wording to the user in the sidebar.
Behind the scenes, complex analysis is taking place to understand the user intent, and map it to effective language patterns we’ve observed in other users.
Ryan and his team succeed in developing ELOPe to the point of being too successful. The ELOPe algorithm develops a mind of its own, and in a bid to garner more computing resources for its machine learning algorithm, threatens to take control of the world.
The references to Avogadro Corp. and its AvoMail email tool are clearly meant to reference Google and Gmail, but the story is an obvious work of fiction. The premise of an artificial intelligent, machine learning algorithm that can read and respond to your emails seems pretty far fetched.
Then I saw this article last week on Mashable – Google Patent Will Let Software Do Your Socializing.
The patent describes a bot that would learn your “voice” by studying your social media accounts and then suggest updates and replies that you should make for future posts. It sounds eerily similar to ELOPe, right down to being developed by
Avogadro Corp. Google. Are we already well on our way to seeing ELOPe become a reality?
Just seeing a reference to the filing of this patent brings back the memories of Avogadro Corp. and artificial intelligence run amuck. Hopefully, the creators of this new social media bot at Google will read Hertling’s Singularity Series and heed its warnings. I can at least hope that the Google engineers build in the necessary precautions to protect us from the machines in case they spiral out of control, right? At least that’s what I’m going to assume so I can sleep peacefully at night.