I’ll moon you if you’re not careful

To be honest, I probably won’t, unless it is by accident: I appear to have lost a small amount of weight recently and my trousers keep falling down. Between that and a belt that is held on by one wafer thin thread, there’s a reasonable chance that I will show off my three piece suite to commuters at least once this week so I’d better be sure to check my underwear for holes each morning. Mrs Cobras has reminded me on several occasions that I need to a) go into the loft and fetch my old “slim Cobra” clothing and b) buy a new belt. I have ignored both these suggestions and prefer to live dangerously.

EmOhOhEn Spells Snake!

Yes, yes, let's all ignore the snake's footprints TOGETHER

On the subject of moons, this article of mine gets more spam than any other article on this blog. And not by a small margin, either, by a vast margin. In fact, before I started adding all the IP addresses to the block list, I was pressing the spam button on 30 or 40 a day. All to the same post. What is it about moons? There does not appear to be anything odd about that post that makes it more attractive to spammers, but clearly, the artificial “intelligence” that drives the spambots are attracted to it like The Cobras to red wine. You know what they say, Em-Oh-Oh-En, that spells artificial intelligence1!

Fortunately for me, I moderate everything by hand and I’m one of those human being things so I can tell that this:

I like the valuable dirt you prepare for in your articles. I force bookmark your weblog and control again here frequently. I am unequivocally certain I will learn varied up to date shit right here! Righteousness fluke in place of the next!”

… is about as likely to be a real person as the delicious home-made biscuits I’m enjoying with coffee. Although, let’s be fair, it deserves at least one gold star for “varied up-to-date-shit” and “righteousness fluke”.

The worst thing is that this is a good one and yet it is still utterly appalling. The spammers only have to get past the automated filters of most blogs and judging by what I see on the Internet those filters are hardly reinforced concrete doors, they’re more like bead curtains. Some automated filters are not bad, but they work off fuzzy recognition based on a database of examples and thus tend to play catch-up rather than being pro-active: when the spammers find some genius new sentence structure that evades them, they’re cooking for a few days. It’s an arms race with no sign of finish in sight. Manual filtering, of course, catches ‘em all, because automated software is utterly crap at context. Furthermore the english is, at best, questionable so it’s dead easy for a real person to recognise them. Even bad english spoken by real humans is recognisable as human by humans.

Whilst these things may be rubbish at context and believability now, they won’t always be. There are some substantial developments taking place in the field of AI right now and it is inevitable that one day, machine intelligence will equal or surpass our own. Then spamming will become really interesting: most of the content of the Internet will become artificial agents all trying to have relevant, sensible conversations with each other in the vague hope that they’ll get a chance to slap their link somewhere where it’ll get clicked on. I am sure it’ll make for cracking content, but what will be real? What won’t be? What is real at that point?

Meh, it’s Monday. This is all too complicated. I drew a moon. With a snake on it. It’s great.

1 One gold star if you can get the reference :-)

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6 Responses to I’ll moon you if you’re not careful

  1. Montaigne says:

    There’s pluses to all this. It will make my telesales job that much easier as I shall just have a 1000 automated and believable bots arguing with a bunch of other believable bots, only flagging up those companies where people ACTUALLY want to talk to me and pay me real money for something I offer, at which point I take over for the human to human interaction.

    • Chief Cobra says:

      Yeah, but they’ll get good. Then you’ll end up taking over for human to human interaction and be speaking to a virtual character. I.e., two can play at that game. But then again, maybe it won’t matter by then: AIs will have rights as living beings and could be just as valid a customer as a human, if not more so.

      • Montaigne says:

        I look forward to the day when we have true AI. It’s an exciting prospect. I sometimes wonder if we have primitive sentient code wandering around the net. Surely evolution is possible with code too given the ridiculous amount of bugs new software has that does random unexpected things?

        I suppose those random unexpected things are only random and unexpected to us though; I’m guessing a programme just does what you programme it to and any randomness is down to a programmer’s inability to process information like a computer.

        But what if you could programme reproduction and evolution into code? Could you have evolving AI expanding through the net?

        • Chief Cobra says:

          You can program reproduction and evolution into code. Indeed, you can make it work pretty much the same way that biology does: you can separate the construction details from the building blocks in the same way that nature achieves its magic with DNA. Digital genetics that code for many tens of millions of low-level digital organism building blocks can allow for the creation of non-brittle artificial organisms where tweaking the odd gene here and there (cutting, duplication or mutation) is unlikely to result in an unviable life-form (syntax error).

          As for escaping onto the net, it’s not unreasonable to have a degree of concern; that concern being mitigated by evolving, training and interacting with these AIs inside a closed virtual environment. Dependency on such environments ensures that escape is, in theory, impossible… or IS IT?

  2. Montaigne says:

    On the other hand it is entirely possible that the doom and gloom predictions of spam clogging up the internet could actually become true for our telephone network in general. I’m sure there’s a sci-fi story in there somewhere of an advanced race with such capability where a virus wipes out all intelligent life on the planet yet the sales and anti-sales AI continue their conversations for all eternity, completely unaware that there masters ceased to exist long ago.

  3. Squidmann says:

    Mooning, thats my thing, plus I have a wonderful Sea of Tranquility disguised as a rather odd birthmark….

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