So, in the world of AI fever dreams where ChatGPT is being seen as the tech that will finally take humanity to its promised next age of evolution, we are seeing more than our fair share of wild experiments. I, for one, created a chatbot that can help me find research papers by typing just two or three keywords and getting the links as well as the summary in about 15 seconds.

Pornstars like Sophie Dee and Riley Reid are creating chatbots that, well, feed into the human fantasy of an ever-present raunchy digital companion. Now, some mad lad with an aptitude for science and over two decades of experience aims to taking us in the direction of sci-fi Hollywood flicks. And not the good kinda sci-fi flicks.

At the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence’s recent expo, scientists revealed what they called Tong Tong, said to be the world’s first child AI. Or child AI – whatever suits your techno-dystopian brain cells. The most striking aspect of this baby AI is that it can assign tasks to itself. While talking to a conventional AI product, such as ChatGPT or Pi, you have to give a text or voice prompt, and the AI will follow your command like the obedient digital Alfred Pennyworth that it is.

Tong Tong, the AI baby. How does this not look like a cruel doom agent for the age of mankind? (Credit: BIGAI / SCMP) 

Tong Tong apparently wants to copy just what its name suggests, according to the South China Morning Post. Despite being a generative AI thingmajig, it is currently showing the same kind of learning aptitude as that of a human baby.

And here’s the scariest part, if you’ve ever had bad dreams about Terminator’s Skynet coming to life and nuking humanity to ashes. One of the presentation videos notes that Tong Tong  “has her own joy, anger and sorrow.” Her self-learning skills at life chores mimic something that a parent will tell their child.

For example, if there's a picture frame hanging even slightly askew, she's on it, like some sort of vigilante for home decor. And let's not forget the grand act of heroism when milk is spilled. Forget calling for help; she's got this all under control with her towel-wielding skills. Clearly, interpreting human intentions is her superpower.

Or as the presentation describes it all in crystal clear terms: “Tong Tong possesses a mind and strives to understand the common sense yacht by humans.” In human years, the team behind this creepy self-learning AI baby notes that by her level of compression and skills, Tong Tong is roughly at the same intelligence level as that of a three or four-year-old human baby. And as the team feeds her more training data, she will continue to hone her human-like skills, experiences, and knowledge.

On the same theme, the team behind Tong Tong has also proposed a new evaluation test called Tong Test, which they seem to be pushing as a replacement for the Turing Test. Just in case that doesn’t ring a bell, well, the Turing Test was proposed over half a century ago by British mathematics wizard Alan Turing as a test for artificial intelligence to check whether it possesses the same cognition level as a regular human being.

Right now, the AI sector is no longer seeing the Turing Test as the benchmark for intelligence. That's predominantly because the current generation of AI products – imagine the good ‘ol chatbots such as ChatGPT –they rely on a fundamentally advanced tech called Large Language models (LLMs).

Imagine, if a team behind an AI baby is promoting the formulation of an all-new intelligence for machine programs, they certainly must be confident that their creepy product is smart enough to ace the Turing test and needs something more robust to separate it from a human and a machine.

By the way, the humble ChatGPT not only seemingly aced the Turing Test, but it also exposed some fundamental flaws with the test parameters itself, laying bare the reality that a vaunted test created by a genius like Alan Turing is broken. Or to put it in scarily simple terms, the test doesn’t stand a chance against modern-age AI programs that are available for free to any curious soul with a screen and an internet connection.

Let’s just hope the genius minds behind an AI baby don’t decide to raise it like some son-of-a-devil, only to realize that it has been playing them all along. By the way, the team at BIGAI is not  just content with an AI baby. They are looking to create something called Artificial Social Intelligence (ASI).

Ever heard the saying that "man is a social animal?" If this team of over-enthusiastic tech nerds in China has their way, we are in for some nasty smart AI that will be more extroverted at chatter and banter than a real human? Lord save us all!

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