Answers to the Summer Quiz

Before the Summer, we posted a little trivia quiz on the theme of classic quotes by artificial intelligences and other conversational pieces of software. Here are the answers.

A. I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. Spoken by HAL (the onboard spaceship computer H-A-L 9000 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968).

B. You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. From Colossal Cave Adventure (the first text-based adventure game, by Will Crowther and Don Woods, 1975-76).

C. How do you do. Please state your problem. The greeting phrase of Eliza (a parody of nondirectional psychotherapy, by Joseph Weizenbaum, 1966).

D. I’ve left for you a message of utmost importance. From
Myst (the seminal graphic adventure game, by Rand and Robyn Miller, 1993).

E. By “it”, I assume you mean the block which is taller than the one I am currently holding. Excerpt from typed dialogue with SHRDLU (an experiment in natural-language processing, by Terry Winograd, 1968-70).

G. People get on my nerves sometimes. From Parry (a cognitive simulation of paranoid schizophrenia, by Kenneth Colby, 1972).

And that leaves F. I am a machine of simplification. which was in fact stated by what we have reason to believe is a human. (The exact circumstances cannot be revealed at this time.)

Moving on to the bonus questions:

Why was HAL called HAL?

The easter-egg-style reference to IBM (“H” is followed by “I” in the alphabet, “A” is followed by “B”, …) is apparently a post-facto myth. According to Wikipedia, “[t]he computer HAL was originally to have been named ‘Athena’, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, with a feminine voice and persona. Clarke noted that, contrary to popular rumor, it was a complete coincidence that each of the letters of HAL’s name immediately preceded those of IBM. The meaning of HAL has been given both as ‘Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer’ and as ‘Heuristic ALgorithmic computer’. The former appears in Clarke’s novel of 2001 and the latter in his sequel novel 2010.”

The gameplay in Colossal Cave starts in the central dome of the Colossal Cave. True or false?

False. “You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.” Sounds familiar?

Why did Weizenbaum write the Eliza program?

The title of Weizenbaum’s 1966 CACM article on Eliza was “A Computer Program For the Study of Natural Language Communication Between Man and Machine”.

What did Weizenbaum learn from writing Eliza?

That people were inclined to attribute human qualities, such as intelligence and empathy, to what he knew was a very simplistic conversational mechanism. In fact, he had chosen the role model of a non-directional psychotherapist specifically in order to sidestep the whole problem of domain knowledge and common sense.

Weizenbaum developed into one of the most persistent critics of ICT automation and specifically of artificial intelligence, with the 1976 book Computer Power and Human Reason considered quite seminal in the field of computer science.

How many of the seven conversational agents quoted above (A-G) would be deemed human in the Turing game?

Probably one.