智能机器人将终结人际互动?

  Whatever happened to the human touch? If youbelieve the latest fad from the tech world, it won’t belong before we give up talking to real people andstart talking instead to machines — or “bots”. Or itmight be machines pretending to be people, orpeople pretending to be machines. The permutationsof human and artificial intelligence are about tobecome interesting.

  人际互动到底发生了什么?如果你将科技界的最新时尚当真,过不了多久,我们将不再与真人对话,而开始与机器或者“机器人”交谈。或者,我们谈话的对象可能是假扮成人的机器人,或是假扮成机器人的人类。人类与人工智能之间的组合变化将变得越来越有趣。

  But if it works as advertised, we will move one step further beyond a world of direct humaninteraction towards a future when screens — and new ways of engaging with computerintelligence — govern much of our lives. For sheer convenience, it will be hard to resist.Less obvious is what might be lost in the process.

  但如果这样做的效果像宣传的那么好,我们将更进一步远离人际直接互动的世界,迈向一个由屏幕——以及与计算机智能交流的新方式——操控我们大部分生活的未来。如果纯粹为了便利,这种诱惑将难以抗拒。但较不易被察觉的是这个过程中我们可能失去什么。

  Facebook has just given this trend its biggest lift with the release this week of a way forcompanies to plug their bots into Messenger, its chat system. Want to know the weather? Aska question and an intelligent agent will answer. Interested in buying something? Bots on handwill show you the latest offers and guide you through to the checkout.

  Facebook刚刚为这一趋势带来了史上最大幅度的提振,该公司上周发布了一种让企业将自己的机器人接入其聊天系统Messenger的方法。如果想了解天气,只需提问,智能机器人就会作答。如果你对购物感兴趣,身旁的机器人将向你展示最新报价,并指导你直到完成付款。


  If people take to the idea, entire call centres could be rendered obsolete. Why hold on waitingfor a human when you can get an immediate response from a bot on your smartphone? Thecall-centre reps are operating from scripts anyway and these are interactions that could beprogrammed into a piece of software.

  如果人类接受这一理念,所有电话服务中心将被淘汰。如果你可以立刻在自己的智能手机上得到机器人的回应,还有什么理由继续等待人工应答呢?反正电话服务中心人员是按脚本应答,这些互动完全可以被编入一款软件。

  Whether the bots catch on will depend on not stretching the technology beyond its limits.Microsoft’s wayward chatbot Tay, the algorithm pretending to be an adolescent girl thatstarted spouting racist comments on Twitter, is Exhibit A for what can go wrong. Most artificialintelligence is not very intelligent and when the main technique for training the new systemsinvolves something called machine learning, it turns out that machines can be taught badbehaviour as well as good.

  要想让机器人受欢迎,必须不让这一技术走过界。微软(Microsoft)任性的聊天机器人Tay就展现了机器人可能出现怎样的错误,这个扮成一名青春期少女的算法程序已开始在Twitter上散布种族主义言论。大多数人工智能并不是很聪明,当培训新系统的主要技术涉及所谓的机器学习时,事实证明,机器人既可能学好,也可能学坏。

  Not that the chatbots on Facebook are about to have a mind of their own and turn rogue.Most take a very limited approach to AI, using machine learning to “understand” thequestions being put to them and returning largely pre-scripted answers. They try to identify aneed, then draw you down a chain of conversation to a result.

  并不是说Facebook上的聊天机器人很快会有自己的思想,而且变得下流。大多数机器人的人工智能模式都很有限,它们利用机器学习来“理解”接收到的问题,并主要反馈预设的答案。它们尝试先确定需求,然后在和你交谈的过程中给出答案。

  Deeper levels of intelligence will also be on tap. But it is as likely to involve a human brain asone made from silicon. M, another Facebook chat service, relies on real people sitting in thebackground, returning answers, though to the user, it is not at all clear whether information isbeing generated by a person or a computer. As the machines become smarter they will takeover more of the responses, eventually pushing human workers out of the loop altogether.

  更深层次的人工智能也将随时派上用场。但它既可能涉及硅脑,也可能涉及人脑。Facebook推出的另一款聊天服务M,依靠真人坐在幕后反馈答案,不过对用户而言,他们根本不知道自己得到的信息是由人还是由计算机生成。随着机器人变得越来越聪明,它们将承担更多的应答服务,最终将人工完全挤出反馈流程。

  The prospect of another layer of human interaction being lost to technology is bound to bringa pang of regret, not to mention a wave of concern about the impact on jobs. But then, whowould want to give up ATMs and go back to queueing up for a bank teller? Most people won’tmind at all when the days of call-centre queueing have receded into history.

  人际互动在又一个层面上败于技术的前景必然会让人类感到痛惜,更不用说对影响就业的大量担忧。但谁愿意放弃自动取款机而回去排队等待银行柜员服务呢?当排队等待电话服务中心应答渐渐成为历史时,大多数人都不会介意。

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