Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Limits of Humanity

A concern that occasionally pops up is "Will Artificial Intelligence decide that humans are superfluous and or even a threat to them and need to eliminate or control them?" as in the movies Terminator, I Robot, or even the excellent, but short-lived TV Series Space Above and Beyond where they had to deal with a hostile alien race and their allies, the man-made "Silicates."

There was also William Shatner's series called Techworld which centered on the lives and rights of "Andies" (slang for "androids"). Not to mention Lt. Cdr Data (who as an android who was ironically the most "human" character on that series.)

Ah yes. Human rights for machines and the threat that they could destroy or enslave us.

Little problem here.

Self-awareness requires a soul and to simply create a soul is something that a mortal man cannot do. It may be possible to copy or alter the data that a soul is operating on but not the soul itself. Without a soul memories and reasoning are mere computer functions.

We could probably create something that is so lifelike that we could not tell that it was just a machine, but this would be due to the ease with which the human is deceived. True self-awareness will never be in a machine.

That does not mean that AI is not dangerous. Some version of a terminator is probably possible, even probable, and as such would be very dangerous, but in the end it would be a soulless automaton.

To be truthful, a soulless automaton is just as scary as artificial sentience and perhaps moreso because it is possible. I could easily envision robotic planes or tanks going on target and destroy missions with minimal human supervision, possibly within the next couple of decades. The closest thing that these machines will have for a soul is the soul of the person who programmed them.


Blogger BB-Idaho said...

"Will Artificial Intelligence decide that humans are superfluous and or even a threat to them and need to eliminate or control them?" ..happened on a rudimentary
level: some years back, when the
Japanese ran robotic equipment overnight. A watchman, the sole human in the busy automated plant, was grabbed by a robotic forearm, inverted, spraypainted, arcwelded
and packaged. heh Wasn't it shortly thereafter they decided middleaged women workers were far
cheaper than robots?

11:19 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

It's already in the works, Shoprat.

I was watching a program on the History Channel last night. I don't know the name of it as I didn't watch it from the beginning, but it was about warfare tactics, mainly armor and weapons, from ancient times to what they are working on now. It seems they are working at perfecting many different machines that will not have to be accompanied by a human. They are even working on uniforms that will make a soldier darned near invisible.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

It's Hard to say how that will eventually unfold. One thing is for sure: it won't turn out how the sci-fi writers envision...

2:28 PM  
Blogger dons_mind said...

hmmm tim i wonder why you say that.....scifi has always been the "drawing board" for technology. believe it or not, star trek (the orig series) was the foundation for many technical achievements....

i agree with you about the soul shoprat - - man can create plenty of things - ai (in some form) will be our next excursion into the future...but it will be soul-less, not in anyway to be confused with mankind....

9:33 PM  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

Soulless doesn't scare me as much as intelligence and learning levels of these machines.... once it has the ability to create itself, start worrying..

10:31 PM  
Blogger jack rensimer said...

Very interesting comments here and I have some agreement with each.

This is our contemporary 'tower of babel'

1:17 PM  
Blogger nanc said...

one cannot forget "hal" in "2001 a space odyssey"...

or "danger, danger will robinson".

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Seth said...

Seeing the unending accelleration of technology in just the past decade, I wouldn't rule anything out.

AB said, ...once it has the ability to create itself, start worrying..

My sentiments, exactly.

10:03 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

bbi quite a story.

gayle Yes we can do a lot but still it is just a complex machine with complex programming, no soul present.

tim We might be suprised

dm Soulless can still be dangerous.

abf That is a sensible concern

jr thank

nanc I forgot about hal.

Seth I would not rule out something that could fool us into believe it was sentient but I do rule out true machine sentience.

11:54 AM  

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