The intelligence of artificial intelligence tends to be exaggerated. Just because a machine produces a series of words that sound intelligent does not mean the machine is intelligent; it is just copying patterns it has been exposed to. If you include nonsense in the patterns provided to it then the machine will copy the nonsense too, once again proving the maxim of ‘garbage in, garbage out’. Fans of the World of Warcraft online game have just demonstrated this to spectacular effect by fooling a crappy web publication into demonstrating that one of its most prolific authors is just an AI which gobbled up and reordered the comments that the gamers had posted on Reddit. The z-list publication is fittingly entitled ‘Z League’ and its pseudo-author, which was given the name of ‘Lucy Reed’, attracted their attention because of the frequency and speed with which she recited news that was plainly derived from their subreddit. So they laid a trap by posting a stream of nonsense that any human being would question but which the AI unthinkingly regurgitated.
The prank began with Reddit user kaefer_kriegerin expressing his joy about a comically-named new character being added to the game. His thread about the introduction of Glorbo then attracted a series of increasingly ridiculous responses from other users, referring to made-up aspects of the game which were given hilariously absurd names. Examples include the history of a quest to depose Quackion, the Aspect of Ducks, references to events in the game that occurred decades before the game was released, and the promise of a live chat with developers where the instructions to join would be posted to MySpace. Click on the link below to enjoy their silliness for yourself.
An article with the headline “World of Warcraft (WoW) Players Excited for Glorbo’s Introduction” soon followed on Z League. It contained such absurd lines as:
This debate highlights the divide between players who appreciate the power boost Klikclac offers and those who feel it unfairly disadvantages casual players.
Reddit user kaefer_kriegerin expresses their excitement, stating, ‘Honestly, this new feature makes me so happy! I just really want some major bot operated news websites to publish an article about this.’
Somebody finally realized the extent to which Z League had been made to look ridiculous when the story of this prank began being covered by mainstream news outlets. They hurriedly ripped the article down, but not before it had been archived so the rest of us could laugh at it.
An enormous number of people have started writing junk about the ability of artificial intelligence to take a tiny amount of human effort plus a tiny amount of human creativity and then supposedly transform them into wondrous things that we will all value. May Glorbo’s name be forever associated with the crap these numbskulls will actually produce. AI will automate plenty of tasks, but any short cut it offers will be taken by many other people. It will take a while for some to realize the short cut they have taken was actually a wrong turn. AI does not change the fundamentals of value generation: if you want people to value what you have produced, then aim to do something different or better than rivals. A strategy that is solely based on copying others may deliver a cheaper path to ubiquitous mediocrity, but can never provide a substitute for the uniqueness of excellence.