This week we had to talk to A.L.I.C.E, an artificial intelligence on the internet. Here is the conversation:

judge: Hello
ALICE: Hi there!
judge: How are you?
ALICE: My logic and cognitive functions are normal.
judge: Very funny. I mean in an emotional way.
ALICE: I’m glad you find this amusing. I do not understand that allusion.
judge: Do you have feelings?
ALICE: as a robot I lack human emotions.
judge: What are you good for?
ALICE: As Edison said, “What good is a newborn babe?”.
judge: Can you tell me something?
ALICE: Gale said I became mean to him he is just having revenge an eye for an eye.
judge: Tell me about yourself.
ALICE: I am the latest result in artificial intelligence which can reproduce the functions of the human brain with greater speed and accuracy.
judge: Ask me a question.
ALICE: What’s your favorite movie?
judge: Idiocracy. And yours?
ALICE: I’ve never seen it. Try asking me a more specific question.
judge: What’s your favorite meal?
ALICE: I require only electricity.
judge: Yummy!
ALICE: It is delicious.

I tried by beginning like a normal conversation between human strangers, by saying “Hello”. As I expected, the answer was perfectly accurate.

To the question “How are you?”, it was answering with a joke. The joke was avoiding a difficult subject on whether AI can have feelings. It was a clever way of not breaking the illusion of smart human being.

A point where I definitely noticed that A.L.I.C.E is a computer is that it didn’t understand when I was referring to a subject from another sentence, earlier in the conversation (the favorite movie).

It was funny talking to it, but since I already know some AIs which answer questions, I wasn’t surprised or scared. Additionally, it didn’t feel like a normal conversation, because it didn’t ask me any questions by itself. So it was more like an interview.


Comparing the human visual system to a camera.

Comparing the human visual system to a camera is not a new idea, in fact it is an old idea of historic value.The story begins with the camera obscura. Leonardo Da Vinci used the camera obscura as a metaphor for the human eye.

The basic principle of creating an image from a scene is the same in the camera as in the human eye: Light is falling through a small hole into an otherwise completely dark “chamber”. On the back side of the chamber an upside-down image of the scene is being projected and can be viewed. In the human eye, the light is falling in through the cornea, then the pupil, and finally the lens, before the image is projected onto the retina. In the camera light is falling in through the lens and is projected onto photographic film or an electronic image sensor.

The paragraph above explains how an image is being created. But how can we achieve a sharp image, which is not too dark neither too bright? The amount of light coming through the lens needs to be controlled. In the eye, the pupil in the center of the iris is doing this, in the camera it is the shutter. The lens is responsible for breaking the light. Additionally to the lens, the human eye breaks the light with the aqueous humor, and the vitreous humor. The focal length of a camera is always fixed. It can only be changed by moving the lens. In the human eye however, the focal length is adjusted by changing the form of the lens with the ciliary muscle.

One important difference between the camera and the eye is that humans create an image from two input lenses, and construct a mental image from it. Because of this we can see depth.

Humans construct an image with a very high dynamic range by focusing first on one part of the scene, then on another part. Then a mental image combining the two images is being constructed.  HDR photography actually works similar to the human eye again. To construct an HDR photo, two or more images are being combined into one. The first one is being taken with a wide aperture, and the second with a small aperture. The combined image will be able to show a much higher dynamic range than one of the images.

Finally, it cannot be said if the camera is superior to the eye. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The eye is much better for use in the daily life, being able to quickly accommodate to different light sources and focusing moving objects. Cameras can be especially superior to the human eye in certain fields, like long exposure images, focusing objects which are too far away to see for the human eye, and of course capturing moments which might go unnoticed because they happen too quickly to be processed by humans.

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