The Parable of the Talking Dog - Terrence Sejnowski
Terrence Sejnowski writes: "One of my favorite stories is about a chance encounter on the backroads of rural America when a curious driver came upon a sign: “TALKING DOG FOR SALE.” The owner took him to the backyard and left him with an old Border Collie.
The dog looked up and said “Woof. Woof. Hi, I’m Carl, pleased to meet you.”
The driver was stunned. “Where did you learn how to talk?”
“Language school,” said Carl, “I was in a top secret language program with the CIA. They taught me three languages: How can I help you? как я могу вам помочь? 我怎么帮你?”
“That’s incredible,” said the driver, “What was your job with the CIA?”
“I was a field operative and the CIA flew me around the world. I sat in a corner and eavesdropped on conversations between foreign agents and diplomats, who never suspected I could understand what they were saying, and reported back to the CIA what I overheard.”
“You were a spy for the CIA?” said the driver, increasingly astonished.
“When I retired, I received the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, the highest honor awarded by the CIA, and honorary citizenship for extraordinary services rendered to my country.”
The driver was a little shaken by this encounter and asked the owner how much he wanted for the dog.
“You can have the dog for $10.”
“I can’t believe you are asking so little for such an amazing dog.”
“Did you really believe all that bullshit about the CIA? Carl never left the farm.”
Have we Created a Talking Dog?
"Large Language Models (LLMs) are AI neural networks models that can carry on a dialog like the one with the dog in this story (Li, 2022). The AI taught itself to “speak” English by “reading” text, an achievement even more impressive than learning a new language by watching TV shows. These LLMs have made huge leaps in size and capability over the last few years and the latest results have stunned experts, some of whom have a hard time accepting that talking humans have been joined by talking neural networks. There is a wide range of views on whether LLMs are intelligent and the origin of this disagreement will be explored below…"
A brilliant and enjoyable essay on Large Language Models, human cognition, and intelligence.
Includes “A road map for achieving artificial general autonomy is outlined with seven major improvements inspired by brain systems.”
Sejnowski is the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where he directs the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory
Follow the thread on Mastodon
As of Jan 2023, I'm making most of my personal social media posts on Mastodon as @Roundtrip@federate.com. If you join Mastodon, please look me up and say hello — it's a nice place to be. I'll keep my @roundtrip and Traction Software's @TractionTeam Twitter accounts open, but won't be posting as frequently.
I'll also try to post more here on Traction Software's group blog - including some new guest posts.
Please see my Mastodon thread for a few thoughts and quotes from Sejnowski's essay.