Siri vs. Samantha: A Tale of Two AI Forms
Will Siri ever become Samantha?
With the exponential growth in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), everyone is thrilled to jump on the bandwagon. We have not yet realized AI’s full potential; in fact, we have barely scratched the surface. The real question is: Can AI be smarter? And, “Will Siri ever become Samantha?”
AI Vague Definition
AI has been defined in a variety of ways over the years. Following are some examples:
“The science and engineering of making intelligent agents” – John McCarthy, 1956
“The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages” – English Oxford Living Dictionary
“The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior” – Merriam-Webster
Yes, these are all great definitions of AI. However, a lot gets lost in translation. Vagueness is common among these definitions.
Can AI solve problems? Is AI capable of experiencing consciousness? Can AI think? When reading AI definitions, all these fundamental questions (and more) arise. It may also cause uncertainty about the form of AI we are dealing with today.
AI Narrow Form
Currently, we mostly deal with what we call Artificial Narrow Intelligence, which is also referred to as Weak AI. A straightforward example that will clear the definition of Weak AI is Siri, Apple’s voice assistant.
As defined by Britta O’Boyle from Pocket-lint, “Siri is a built-in, voice-controlled personal assistant available for Apple users. The idea is that you talk to her as you would to a friend and she aims to help you get things done, whether that be making a dinner reservation or sending a message.” Therefore, Weak AI is programmed to perform within a limited scope of a specific area. It also helps in automating time-consuming tasks, and analyzing big data, which is sometimes difficult for human beings to analyze manually. But, it lacks human consciousness.
In other words, Siri relies on a huge list of keywords to perform a task or provide the needed information. Siri is not capable of understanding and truly interpreting needs, emotions, thought processes, and beliefs of humans. Siri lacks consciousness and self-awareness; the two characteristics that makes us humans and constitute what we call Strong AI, which we will discuss in the following section.
AI General Form
The other hypothetical form of AI is called Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and often known as Strong AI. Samantha, the operating system in the movie Her is an example of this form of AI. We can observe many examples in other sci-fi movies, though they are not available in reality yet.
AGI is a program that has general cognitive abilities, and experiences consciousness and self-awareness of the human mind. Going back to Samantha, she is a sentient, intelligent operating system capable of conducting impressive conversations, reasoning, planning, learning, and a master in the emotional realm. In other words, Samantha embodies every definition of AGI.
In contrast, today’s AI machines are not so “intelligent.” They are relatively slow in learning, capable of limited predictive analytics, and solve one specific problem. To some extent, the intelligence lays in the capability of solving one problem without human interruption. The main missing ingredient here is “consciousness;” what if we can create artificial consciousness?
Consciousness, according to Verywellmind.com, is "your individual awareness of your unique thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, and environments. Essentially, your consciousness is your awareness of yourself and the world around you.” This consciousness is always evolving because of the current environment and previous experience. For example, you may remember that you forgot to feed your cat this morning, then you notice the bitter taste of the coffee you're sipping; next, you recall being out for coffee with a friend the night before.
Artificial consciousness, on the other hand, refers to a machine's ability to have its own distinct memories, feelings, and thoughts. A machine would be conscious if it could dream for itself, recall memories, and observe its surroundings—not because it was designed to do so. If a machine can accomplish this, it is said to have AGI.
Will Siri Ever Become Samantha?
Our emotions, not black-and-white logical reasoning, dictate our behaviors as humans. As a result, for AI to fully become sentient and human-like, its actions must be motivated by emotions. It must also comprehend the numerous hidden indicators that underpin human behaviors and interactions, rather than simply waiting for step-by-step instructions.
So, how far away are we from AGI? From a technological standpoint, we are still a long way from conscious and human-like AI. However, given how quickly technology advances, it may be a few years before we witness AGI. Siri was born only 11 years ago, so imagine what we might see in another 11 years.
Marr, B. 2021. The Key Definitions Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) That Explain Its Importance. Forbes. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
O’Boyle, B. 2021. What is Siri and how does Siri work? Pocket-Lint. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
Schofield, J. 2017. John McCarthy obituary. The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 17 2022.
[The article was sourced from the author by TWA editor Kamel Bou Hamdan.]