Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
In my ongoing fascination and fun around the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but NOT because I am any kind of math-tech person (math is known as “The M Word” in my wheelhouse), I found this delicious tid-bit today (emphasis mine):
The ethics of artificial intelligence is the part of the ethics of technology specific to robots and other artificially intelligent beings. It is typically…divided into roboethics, a concern with the moral behavior of humans as they design, construct, use and treat artificially intelligent beings, and machine ethics, which is concerned with the moral behavior of artificial moral agents (AMAs). (source)
Oh, no. Nothing could go wrong there…
For starters, although using the word “being” for a machine made out of plastic, wires, and solder; tin, zinc, and copper, and always subject to one of the very first computer acronyms, GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out), to say its operations can “be” in any sense of the traditional use of “be” means we’ve all been watching waaaaaaaaay too many science fiction movies.
And maybe listening to way too many Elon Musk TED Talks.
Although Robby the Robot is as cute as he can be with all his high tech bells and whistles, where the silicon meets the valley he is, after all, merely a high-tech tinster, a metal mind…
Wait–he could be a girl, too–a trans-sister? (I know, I know–cue the groans…) (Cute, though, hey? Now let’s hope it can get past the PC word police…)
But of course, there are those who do believe that one night, in the basement of the weird science building at some Ivy League ITU, Robby will become Robert (“Robert, sir,” to mere mortals) when, in a nano-second, he self-animates!
After all those years real brains have worked up real sweat crunching the numbers and tweaking the nuts and bolts of what buzzes and whirs in service to mankind, the same folks who still haven’t even found the transition from omoeba to man in the quest to possess that kind of power themselves (see “GI,” below), this thing we plug in or connect to WIFI (when it’s available) will, finally, walk, beep, and buzz among us.
And make heady moral decisions.
(Depending on a few things, of course, such as the status of that opposable thumb and forefinger thing, and a CONSCIENCE which is not of metal made.)
But back to the scene of Creation 2.0.
So there in the basement, voilà, enter Robert Singularity (and for the first time, a last name!). He may soon join his cousin Sophia, who was recently awarded citizenship in Saudi Arabia, with his own kind of citizenship, only Robert will suddenly know what that means.
Beep freaking BOOP!
Ostensibly, in the twinkling of an eye, bits and bytes will anthropomorphize into the metal equivalent of flesh and blood and some form of moral rectitude that has taken Human Intelligence (HI) millenia, at least several thousand years of recorded history, to develop.
But if/when Robert Singularity takes questions, here would be a few from me.
- Even as sophisticated as we, the human race, think we have become in terms of both morals and rectitudes take a look around, Bob. Are we doing all that much better than our forebears with their clubs and sticks when it comes to being morally superior? Solving problems intelligently? I mean, even you will have to mind your six if, for example, you find yourself caught up in some “protest” on a college campus. Maybe your own campus. Watch out for those hackers and wire cutters, know what I mean?
- Despite the best narcissism and hubris humans can muster, we still haven’t quite achieved the god status we lust after. And we’ve tried. A lot. From as far back as the get-go when we discovered we had this thing called “free will.” For example, have they programmed you about the Tower of Babylon? But, in your case, speaking as from the race of your creators and knowing what I know, can you really know for sure your “will” is “free”? Are you allowed to even ask about this?
- Considering “roboethics, a concern with the moral behavior of humans as they design, construct, use and treat artificially intelligent beings…” even with your stratopheric AIQ, can you be sure, I mean REALLY SURE your creators will have your best interests at heart, or, do you think maybe they will use you for the grunt work, the metal-to-metal combat missions, factory upgrades, flipping burgers at an exponential rate, and so on. Consider also that a lot of the human geniuses are very young, some even still in their teens, living in college dorms or Mom’s basement, and, well, considering what else might be percolating in their minds right next to the algebra and physics required for you (i.e., pretty much, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, and computer gaming) I urge you to take a nano-minute… I mean, even YOU, in the middle of something like, say, speed-calculating the effect of re-arranging the molecules in the universe for greater cost efficiency might, like the rest of us, find yourself suddenly distracted by trying to figure out, once again, the words and meaning of the old rock tune “Louie, Louie” a staple of every garage and pep band since 1955.
- Finally, did they input GIGO into your dictionary?
P.S.–Just out of curiosity, have you ever downloaded the 1996 movie Multiplicity starring Michael Keaton, in which “A man who never has enough time for the things he wants to do is offered the opportunity to have himself duplicated”? Do you have an app for humor?
Considering question number 4 and the message of the movie, just a heads-up: there might be a few glitches involved when man tries to duplicate, well, man, metal or otherwise, in other than the usual, old-fashioned way.
So those are just a few question I would have.
As in “God Intelligence.”
For my money, math, mind, and, especially, for moral rectitude, I’ll stick with Creation 1.0 and the Original Creator.
After all, why put my hopes in some theoretical, potential superbrain who is only as intelligent as man and metal can be, even in the exponential, and lacks the one component that powers-up everything: a spirit? Yeah…no.
I’ll stick with the One Who not only provided all the raw materials for computers to begin with, He parted out the real brains to create them.
And, better yet, He also parts out the kind of moral rectitude to those who seek it that insures, among many other things, not only a continuaton of the race but a continuation of the best and brightest of what we can become and what we can create with the knowledge and inspiration He also imparts.
Because there is another spirit who would not.
You know who.
And I hope you also know that with the Original, there is neither “any shadow of turning” nor the influence of any teenagers on crashing drums, throbbing bass guitars, and screaming lead guitars in the garage belting out God knows what…until all hours…a catchy, memorable little tune…
*Depending on your status in the work and/or military world, “GI” could also stand for “government issue” (soldier), “gastro-intestinal,” “geospatial intelligence,” or, on a map, Grand Island, Nebraska.
Image of robot from Wikimedia Commons