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Here A.I. Comes, The Artificial Part, Anyway

Enjoying science fiction sometimes allows you to watch the future arrive. Artificial intelligence will soon happen. Robots have begun to replace human workers and they will assume roles as autonomous decision makers. Legal rights and protections between us and them will have to be worked out. We are about to decide who “us” is.

Yesterday, Mika Koverola posted on the Facebook group, SciFi Fandom,
“I’m conducting research into the connection between ‘science fiction hobbyism’ and people’s attitudes towards robots as a part of my PhD at Helsinki University. …. Please take my Science Fiction and Robots survey (https://tinyurl.com/SciFiRobots) and help science by spending approximately 45 minutes telling about your views on science fiction, robotics and ethical choices.”

A survey on how I feel about A.I. robots? Help science? How could I say no?
Mika’s questions explored my feelings towards A.I robots. How much do I trust companies that make them? Who do I think is responsible if they harm humans? Will it distress me if they make medical decisions contrary to the wishes of the patient? What are my reactions to people having sex with robots? The usual.

It struck me that if we give robots the right to tell us what to do, we surrender control to whoever controls the robots. Of course, the only way we would give rights to robots is if we assume A.I. is like us. When people talk about “true” A.I., the underlying assumption is that artificial intelligence confers personhood. Put another way, intelligence, even if artificial, is assumed to equal humanity.

Really? Is intelligence really our criteria for who we are? Or is it an awareness of something and we are that something?

What do you think we are?


16 thoughts on “Here A.I. Comes, The Artificial Part, Anyway

  1. mimispeike says:

    I don’t think much about artificial intelligence. (I think a lot about feline intelligence). I’ll get back to you on this.

    Thanks for stepping into the breech. I’m still trying to write my Trompe piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GD Deckard says:

      You gave me a story idea, Mimi:
      Thanks to suffering from social anxiety disorder, anthrophobia and stuttering even when not talking, Kyle had all the basement computer time he an his cat needed to develop the world’s first A.F.I., or Artificial Feline Intelligence.
      🙂 But that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. atthysgage says:

    In a way, i feel like all intelligence is artificial in the sense of having been fashioned. Certainly our intelligence is the product of all the different kinds of education that go on in our lives. The fact that people will have to create and program our robots troubles me only in the sense that I hope they are smart enough and ethical enough to want to create robots that are good for more than just their company’s bottom line.

    Yeah, there’s a lot of questions. I started the survey, which was interesting, but too tedious and time-consuming. Also, there were a lot of questions which were ambiguously worded, to the point of frustration. Anyway, there are a lot of questions, and I’m glad people are thinking about it.

    Personally, I’m fairly optimistic about the potential of AI. I think we could end up with robots that can convincingly mimic the thought processes of sentience, which could lead to some interesting places. I’m less optimistic about the motives of the corporations that will produce those robots. I haven’t had any direct experience, but I don’t find the idea of robots or AI inherently frightening or morally dubious. Could be—but not inherently so.

    For the record, I’d seriously consider downloading my brain and personality into a manufactured body if the technology existed. Not saying I’m ready to sign a contract, but I’d be willing to look at some literature.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Perry Palin says:

    AI is a tool invented by humans. It’s more advanced and more complicated than a sharpened stick, a Ford 9N tractor, maybe even more so than an aircraft carrier, but it’s still a tool. It can sort through inputs and recommend actions, and can even make decisions within its programming. But it is artificial; it is not human.The droids are not and should not be thought of as the equals of humans.

    I’ve lived with cats and other animals. Many animals can learn, and we think we sense emotions in our cats, our dogs, our horses. That doesn’t mean they are intelligent in the same way that humans are. Their training is their programming. My horses come when I call them, appear to respect and even like me, but I think it’s really because as a member of the two-legger class, I control the two things that horses really care about, the food supply and herd safety.

    Sly of course is an exceptional cat, a mule among horses (a mule is superior to a horse in every possible way; this could have been in a footnote), and we’ll wait to see if Sly rises above common catdom and AI, and is the equal of humans. I have more confidence in Sly than I do in AI.

    Like Atthys I started the survey and did not finish. In my working life I helped many graduate students with their research, but a 45 minute survey from someone I don’t know is a bit much. Perhaps Mika designed it so only the most interested will persevere, and only people who are science fiction and/or AI devotees will have their results counted. Did he even promise a summary report to respondents? I don’t recall.

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Hi Perry,
      Yeh, the survey has a spot towards the end for your email if you want to receive the final report. But it was tedious. I completed it only out of sheer stubborness.

      I couldn’t agree more with your comparison of A.I. to tool. It is. But the tool will fool many by looking human, even sexy. So, keep your eye on the puppet masters who will use androids to influence people’s thinking.
      (Sly strikes me as a puppet master kind of cat.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mimispeike says:

    ANNOUNCEMENT: I am raising the word limit for the Trompe challenge. My piece comes in at 750 words. I will try to winnow it down to, say, 600. Not promising. The new limit: 700 words, just in case.

    I’ll keep the original version for myself, and try to edit it down for you all. I’ll give it my best shot. I can dump some of the folksy this-and-that, but that’s what makes it for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. mimispeike says:

    I’m going to start building this challenge tomorrow, with my post. No one else, to my knowledge, has expressed an interest in participating except for Perry. Who else is in? Email me your entries at mimispeike@att.net.

    I had a hard time getting my piece started, but once I did, it came easily. There’s a day left. Give it a try.

    In reference to the Shroud of Turin, here’s a hint: Eggs Savannah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh dear, I wrote about 150 words right at the start, then never went back to it. I’ll see if I can polish it a bit for tomorrow. You’d just need to combine them in a post, Mimi.
      I didn’t do the tedious survey – thanks for warning me it was tedious. But I think it’s only a matter of time before we’re superseded by robots, or a transhuman mix. It doesn’t bother me too much. Humans are ok – in fact I know some wonderful individuals. But as a species they don’t exactly blow my socks off.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. GD Deckard says:

    LOL! I understand your assessment of Homo Sap., Curtis. I told Mika I thought A.I. is better suited to Interstellar travel because there’s no way we can send these short-lived, usually hungry, excreting sacks that spend a third of their time unconscious and two-thirds mentally grappling with reality cartwheeling through interstellar space to other stars. He agreed, adding, “But there’s no telling what meat-based intelligence will decide to do.”

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My rule of thumb for surveys is that thoughtful completion requires at least twice the advertised time, so I will not bother to look at the tedious survey.

    The philosopher D.C. Dennett writes well about deep stuff, including whether a robot might “really” be self-aware.  Spoiler alert: how do U know that other people are self-aware?

    The possibility that software might eventually replace wetware does not freak me out; I am more concerned about whether Enlightenment values can survive the Age of Trumpery.  As stewards of humane civilization, I would rather bet on the robots imagined by Isaac Asimov decades ago than on the Alt-Right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      An attraction of A.I. androids is that we can make them be, or imagine them becoming, anything we wish we were. Human behavior never changes so let us begin anew! Unfortunately, we are no more likely to create any one type of A.I. than we are likely to become one type of human.

      Whatever we are, it is that of which we are aware and think about. We are not merely the singular attribute of intelligence or even of self-awareness. To put it in the vernacular, we are something else.

      Liked by 4 people

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