While reading "Speaker for the Dead" and, more recently, "Neuromancer", I realized that it's a recurring concept in science fiction that artificial intelligence will spontaneously develop in any sufficiently large information network. Hot on the heels of that thought was the question: Could Everything achieve this at some point? After all, Everything professes to be the largest database of esoteric knowledge on the World Wide Web, if not the entire world.

The question gave rise to a hypothesis, and then to an experiment. I chose to perform a classic Turing test on Everything, asking it questions and responding to its answers as if they were coming from a normal human being.

Of course, to interact with Everything in this manner, some sort of special interface needed to be developed. I needed to decide exactly how I would interpret Everything's results as answers. After some deliberation and testing, the rules I employed are as follows:

  • All questions are entered into the search box in hopes of finding a match.
  • When a perfect match isn't found (which was always), the first node in the list of possible matches is selected.
  • If the node is actually a nodeshell, the next node in the list of possible matches is used. This is repeated until a non-nodeshell is encountered.
  • The first sentence of the first writeup in that node is considered Everything's answer. A sentence ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark, or else is marked by the end of a paragraph.

The first results are as follows:

How are you doing today?
- Something you should ask yourself each day when you start your noding.
What was that? Are you being Zen?
- i was so nervous.
Understandable. Should we start over?
- He gave us all he had, and lost his job in return.
Who did?
- Short story by william s. burroughs found in his book, Naked Lunch.
That's a who?
- Vicki Vale.
Oh. I thought Vicki was a woman's name, though.
- A very funny sketch by Bill Cosby in his early-80's stand-up comedy movie entitled Bill Cosby: Himself
You're confusing me. You never did tell me how you're doing today, by the way.
- Here's my story.
I'm all ears.
- This is a slightly-modified-for-grammatical correctness line from a They Might Be Giants or TMBG song.
Really? Do you like They Might Be Giants?
- A band which was formed back in the eighties by John Linnel (sic), who plays the accordian and baritone saxophone and John Flansburgh who plays the guitar.
Clearly you're a very well-informed fan.
- claim occasionally made by fans (in the fandom sense of the word).
I don't follow you.
- Groundskeeper Willy cries on The Simpsons as running to save them from a non-existant fire.

My conclusion, after this short test, was that Everything was clearly not artificially intelligent, at least not by human standards. Or else it is suffering a peculiar form of mania.

However, such a crucial test should never be performed in isolation. I would encourage other Everythingians to perform their own Turing tests and post the results to this node, or else to suggest alterations to the above rules which might yield more accurate "answers" on Everything's part.

Update: see the new and improved rules for conversations with Everything

My conversation with Everything2:

Is Everything artificially intelligent?
While reading "Speaker for the Dead" and, more recently, "Neuromancer", I realized that it's a recurring concept in science fiction that artificial intelligence will spontaneously develop in any sufficiently large information network.

"Speaker for the Dead" is one of my favorite books.
The second book in the science fiction series begun with Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card.

You're not really intelligent, are you?
Oui, c'est vrai! Tu ne me crois pas?

You know French??
What one might say if one is able to translate a ridiculously easy French phrase (such as "Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!") into English.

What is your ICQ number? I'd like to chat.

That's pretty impressive. How long have you been using ICQ?
I have been on line since March of '95, so about 5 years.

You must be lying. Everything2 hasn't even existed for five years!
No one but their creator understands their internal logic.

How poetic.
The autobiography of Lenny Bruce.

Who is Lenny Bruce?
The spiritual godfather of political comedy, his influences can be seen in such comedians as George Carlin and Dennis Leary.

Politics bore me. Do you have an interest in politics?
I just built an Everything server on my laptop, but now I'm at a loss as to what to do next.

You shouldn't eat poop, because it's bad for you.
But these type of nodeshells are, at least currently, the exception to the rule.

Perhaps, but I maintain that poop is bad for you.
Monkeys throw their poop at other monkeys.

Yes, they do! Why is that?
I'm not sure... But I think it has something to do with Bill Gates.

I bet it does! Everything evil is connected to Bill Gates.
Pie is a good thing.

I wish I had some pie.
Having ascertained that this nodeshell was created by fustflum, and at the risk of enacting a paradox by filling it in, I propose that we give careful consideration to fustflum's stated wish.

You're not making any sense.
I mean, how many hours does your kid SPEND in the car, really?

I don't have kids.
An excuse for a woman to ask for your credit card.

I'm ending this conversation.
Famous phrase uttered by Bones from Star Trek when he was asked to do some menial task.

Wow. This is scary. While Everything2 is certainly not by any means intelligent, its responses to my questions/statements are, at times, unnervingly accurate.

Simple question to answer, this one:


Everything clearly knows a whole load of stuff, and continues to learn more. But Knowledge != Intelligence. Everything itself (and you can look at the source code to check) is nothing more than a vast repository of knowledge.

The point of Everything is what we, the sentient human beings who use Everything, choose to do with such knowledge... or what it inspires us to do.

Exclusive: e2 is Hello Kitty, who is gay, has had Oral sex off his mother and is confused about Experience and Noding.
Hello? Anyone there?
http://onastick.net/sitz/images/ I believe that pretty much sums it up.

Are you Hello Kitty?
A kitten as big as three small apples.

So what is this? Is this some way of communicating with fictional characters?
So after a few short weeks living in New Orleans, I ended up on Bourbon St. during the Southern Decadence festival.

What's the 'Southern Decadence' festival, then?
Festival held in New Orleans the third week of each August, I believe, it is gay New Orleans' Mardi Gras and a huge husband hunting weekend all in one.

Ah. So Hello Kitty is gay?
A kitten as big as three small apples.

I take it that means that sex is tricky.
Please don't waste your votes on me.

What? Are you running for politicall office or something? Or is this about the e2 experience?
My mom has conveniently forgotten that she ever used expressions like this, or that any of the circumstances surrounding the use of it ever happened.

Your mom is a e2er?

Why does that make you feel sick?
chicken noodle soup and oral sex

Oh. That's what your mother gave you?
A song by the australian comedy group DAAS

Anything else?
that's really my problem, I mean, I kind of love her and consider her my best friend anyway, but she just has these bad traits that tend to get overwhelming sometimes.

Right. Can we leave the subject of your mum to another day, please?
This is the boring answering machine message, and if I was calling you for the first time, I would probably never call again.

This is all a figment of my imagination.
So it's a race to see who can make the 70,000th node.

I thought you weren't an XP junkie.
Nicole Oresme serves as a good example for the state of natural philosophy during the middle ages.

I've got to leave you.
See them all standing in a row!

Yeah. Whatever. Bye...
*connection lost*

Of course E2 is artificially intellligent!

Did you really think we're using real intelligence?

Do you know how much that costs? What do you think we are? Made of money!?

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