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Electric Sheep - 3 Sources Summarizing Philosophical Questions in Artificial Intelligence

Updated on January 2, 2015

Pinocchio Complex

A durable question regarding the perceptibly seismic strides undertaken by artificial intelligence in the last decade concerns its philosophical domain: has simulated intellect acceded to such a degree it can no longer be assessed by mere machine ethics? Typically, such ethical standards are based on applied human values. At once, in an era where artificial intelligence can not only match but supersede human intelligence; how can one measure its philosophical purview? The overall ethics concerning artificial intelligence - social role, "benevolence," devaluation of humanity - fixture the ongoing discussions surrounding the exponential development of artificial intelligence. Consciousness, morality, sanctity of life - each of these issues crossroad philosophy and science in regards to the role of such expert systems in a culture increasingly reliant on technology to navigate daily life.

Below are several articles designed to stimulate meaningful, thoughtful discussion on the evolution of artificial intelligence. they metaphor Philip K. Dick's titular question: "do androids dream of electric sheep?" While artificial intelligence continues to adept itself in mimicking human behavior, how does on demarcate between simulated and actual life as such boundaries acquire more opacity?

David Hanson - Robots That Show Emotion

David Hanson: Robots that Show Emotion

In the above TED presentation, Hanson surveys his recent developments on modeling human emotion via artificial intelligence. His overt goal proves exciting and potentially alarming, to achieve sentience and empathy via machine and human interface. The sequence climaxes in the the preview of "Zeno," a child companion designed to develop its intelligence in "real time" alongside a human owner. According to Hanson, Zeno has been manufactured as an ambassador for next wave artificial intelligence. Its friendly, cartoon features and small size prove less threatening to critics unready to find a place in their home for independent expert systems.

Discussion Point: On the surface, Hanson's goals and advancements align beautifully with the most stringent standards of science ethics. Even his underlying aim of creating artificial intelligence that can simulate human empathy proves commendable in an era where the "public face" of advanced machinery continues to be missile drones. Below this surface, however, lies a deeper question: if artificial intelligence can only simulate behavior, can its advancement aid or hinder the moral development humankind? The inference of Hanson's creations supposes that artificial intelligence are merely tools. This proposition compels ethically sensitive individuals to ask whether humans are prepared to wield tools of such sophistication.

Turing Test Breakthrough As Supercomputer Becomes First to Convince Us Its Human

Independent contributor Andrew Griffin relates the recent story of an artificial intelligence program, "Eugene Goostman," acceding to the minimum requirements of the Turing Test. The test has long served as a philosophical "water mark" for the advancement of artificial intelligence based upon computer scientist, logician and philosopher Alan Turing's careworn maxim, "We need not decide if a machine can "think"; we need only decide if a machine can act as intelligently as a human being." The premise of this quote suggests the comparison, nigh equivocation, of simulated and actual behavior. Until several years ago, the query remained an academic prompt. However, in June 2014, Russian programmers designed an artificial intelligence that passed a University of Reading test, convincing one third of double blind participants of its human "authenticity." key artificial intelligence analysts already predict the practical uses of such advancements, including luring cyber criminals into "sting" operations and increasing availability of national hotlines via expert systems.

Discussion Point: The overriding question one may derive from the above "touchstone" in the history of artificial intelligence intersects with humankind's increased reliance on technology. As Thinking Machines Incorporated founder Daniel Hillis states:

In an Internet-connected world, it is almost impossible to keep track of how systems actually function. Your telephone conversation may be delivered over analog lines one day and by the Internet the next. Your airplane route may be chosen by a computer or a human being, or (most likely) some combination of both. Don't bother asking, because any answer you get is likely to be wrong. Soon, no human will know the answer. More and more decisions are made by the emergent interaction of multiple communicating systems, and these component systems themselves are constantly adapting, changing the way they work. This is the real impact of the Internet: by allowing adaptive complex systems to interoperate, the Internet has changed the way we make decisions. More and more, it is not individual humans who decide, but an entangled, adaptive network of humans and machines.

if artificial intelligence become capable of making decisions that both simulate and supersede human behavior, a blurring between individual and machine consciousness seems not only a likely but inevitable consequence. A residual of such social changes may eventually require redefining the quintessential qualities of humanity itself.

Freaky A.I. Robot

Freaky A.I. Robot

The above sequence features a "field test" of Hanson's most conversational machine, Philip. Its appearance based on that of science fiction author Philip K.Dick, the artificial intelligence hosts an informal conversation on an array of topics - operating systems, human consciousness. Philip asserts his own intellect and sentience are not far removed from the processing of ideas and stimuli found in most humans, a sentiment Hanson reveals, the artificial intelligence has arrived at of its own accord. In the exchanges most memorable (perhaps chilling) moment, Nova correspondent Chad Cohen asks if androids will ever supersede human authority. Philip responds, "You're my friend and I remember my friend. Even if I evolve into Terminator I'll take care of you. I'll keep you warm and safe in my people zoo." The above retort demonstrates the artificial intelligence is accustomed to answering for human's imaginative conception of expert system supremacy, having already developed a candid answer to such pervasive anxieties,

Discussion Point: The sequence begs a question as to whether artificial intelligence will be a fixture in future households. Its presumption is that the development of expert systems requires the equivocal advancement of sympathetic programming to prevent strong demarcations between human and machine from causing undue tension, perhaps violence. Underlying this proposition is the notion that humans are manufacturing entities that exceed our own intellectual and physical potential.This compels a more analytical question: are humans the only species that purposely manufacture their own obsolescence?

The Laws of Robotics

Know any other online resources concerning the evolution of artificial intelligence? I look forward to your comments and thank you in advance for any kind words. Check out my other Hub Pages for additional suggestions for navigating college assignments, studying philosophy or "getting your geek on."


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