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Electric monk research group

The Electric Monk Research Group was created on the 14th of October 2003 in order to investigate the extent to which the human ability to process testimony can be automated. Most people working in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics who are trying to create programs or machines that exhibit human-like intelligence have overlooked the fact that human beings get most of their information from testimony. Real androids will never come close to doing the things their fictional counterparts can do until they too can acquire information from the assertions of other agents. The name "Electric Monk Research Group" comes from a character, the Electric Monk, created by Douglas Adams:

The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.

Unfortunately this Electric Monk had developed a fault, and had started to believe all kinds of things, more or less at random. It was even beginning to believe things they'd have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City. (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency [London, Pan, 1988], p. 3.)

© Antoni Diller (2 March 2014)