Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Truth: Less Helpful Than Fiction?

The most accurate answer may not be the most helpful. Suppose we are on the tenth floor of a building and you ask, "what's the quickest way to get back down to the street?" I could give you the correct answer: "the quickest way would be to throw a chair through that window over there and then jump through it." Or I could give you an answer that is technically incorrect, but much more useful: "go down to the end of the hallway, take a right, and take the elevator."

Computers can be maddening because they tend to give you the literally true answer that is useless, instead of the "wrong" answer that is useful.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whatever issues you were having--you have my sympathy.

Michelle

blue said...

I suppose the next step in AI is the concept of practicallity. It'll be too long for me until our home computers are built with such things.

Ever read Asimov? This reminds me of I, Robot. Good luck with whatever you're having trouble with.

Tom said...

Actually, computers do seem to be getting better at being "helpful." For example, if I Google for "Jennifer Lepoz" it will say "Did you mean: Jennifer Lopez." That is pretty cool.

moe said...

but that's all wrong because you would NEVER google jennifer lopez (or lepoz).

right???

Tom said...

Right, I wouldn't. It was a hypothetical example.