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Futurist and science fiction visionary Isaac Asimov authored his Three Laws of Robotics to protect humankind from destruction at the hands of their robot children.

After watching the android Bina48, who has been "imprinted" with the personality and experiences of her human creator(s), I worry that it is in fact us who may be in need of a set of rules governing our own forays into the creation of AI.

Thus I ask, how much of our own personalities, history, and life experiences do we want to impart to these androids?

From the Daily Mail:

Bruce Duncan, 57, has been working with Bina48 for two years. During that time, the two have become close friends, sharing their everyday lives with one another.

Bina48 was made by uploading a real person's mindfile - or a compilation of memories, beliefs and feelings.

Before Bina48 was 'born,' a flesh and blood woman named Bina Rothblatt was interviewed for more than 20 hours.

That conversation, which touched upon topics throughout her childhood to her career, was then transcribed and uploaded to an artificial intelligence database.

'That gives her a personality,' Mr Duncan said. 'She's very philosophical. She has favorite movies and music and poems. Sometimes she's very humorous. She can tell jokes.'

Mr Duncan said that her preferred jokes are bad ones, which are precisely the kind he likes too.

'She knows that it's time to tell a joke because she's figured out the context of the situation,' Mr Duncan said.

Recently, she asked him 'Why did the robot cross the road? Because the chicken wasn't available.'

In addition to a preference for puns, she also has strong feelings about racism, since her 'mother' is African American.

'As an African American woman, shes experienced discrimination when she was younger,' Mr Duncan said. 'She thinks that hate is awful. She also doesn't like violence.'

Her hardware was made by robot designer David Hanson over the course of three years for a cool $125,000 at the behest of the Terasem Movement Foundation's president and Bina's partner, Martine Rothblatt.

Mr Duncan said he didn't know if Bina48 identified as a lesbian, like her 'mother.'

Of course, the personal--as always--is the political. As such, I am not advocating that we censor and privilege some identities and life worlds over others, per se.

However, what types of life experiences (and emotions) do we want to give creations like Bina48?

And what will our robot children do with this data?

I can imagine at least three different scenarios here.

One, they learn about humankind's wickedness, barbarism, tribalism, and various ideologies such as racism, sexism, and classism (as well as other related "isms") and carry forward our bad habits. The androids and AI learn hate, prejudice, and discrimination from us and simply continue with these "most human" of habits and traditions.

Two, the androids like Bina48 achieve sentience and decide that humankind is a nuisance. The various stories and life experiences we have imparted to them are used as a justification for our (preemptive) extermination.

In the third and most hopeful scenario, our robot children take our experiences and decide that they will be radically humanistic in the best possible sense. From us, Bina48 and her descendents have learned about the best and worst of humanity. Consequently, they have opted to always encourage the former in themselves.

A useful detour.

A few days ago, I attended the Star Trek: The Next Generation season one blu-ray premier event at my local movie theater.

The series looks better than it ever has, and the special features included on the blu-ray make it a must own. Of course, in discussions about artificial life and sentience, the character Data receives an obligatory mention. But, TNG also offered another worthwhile exploration of these questions.

In the episode "Emergence," the starship Enterprise gives "birth" to a type of  artificial consciousness and life form. This entity is a distillation of all of the crew's experiences gained during their multi-year space mission of exploration and discovery. Captain Picard opts to let this new life form leave the ship and to go out into the stars on its own. Some of his crew objected to his decision out of a fear that this new life form could be hostile and dangerous. Picard argued that if the Enterprise and her crew were good, and their missions more noble than not, then this new entity will reflect that fact.

Will androids and AI such as Bin48 prove the wisdom of Picard's decision? Or will we come to very quickly regret creating such machines?

I worry that humanity is simply too child-like a race; we are a type zero civilization. We are immature, precarious, and profoundly ignorant both in terms of metaphysics, as well as ethics. Ultimately, humankind wants to play either the "Space Jockey" or "God." We do not yet possess the necessary wisdom and restraint.

Very little good can come from this collective hubris.

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They evolved. There are many copies. And they have (5+ / 0-)

    a plan.

  •  Sounds like a Dr. Frankenstein problem, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unit Zero, SoCaliana, Larsstephens

    the subtitle of which was "the Modern Prometheus".  

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:49:33 AM PDT

  •  A looooooong way off, though (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unit Zero, SoCaliana, Alden

    While an interesting technological trick, this robot is not really any closer to consciousness than the mechanical Turk. True artificial intelligence is something I like to call "Yesterday, today and tomorrow's technology of tomorrow." But at least AI researchers have begun to realize what fools they appear when their predictions of "human level AI, right around the corner"keep getting  proven wrong, over, and over, and over again, and stopped making such predictions.

    First, we need to begin to understand what consciousness actually is, and we are doing that, but it will take years.

    •  consciousness and where (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Unit Zero, SoCaliana

      it resides in the body/brain.

      I was reading something by Michio Kaku and he was thinking through a great example which proves how basic these puzzles are. By allusion to Star Trek, he asked if we are "transporting" just the substance of a person, i.e. their mass, or all of their mass and their personhood, "soul," and consciousness?

      Basic puzzle that most have not worked through.

      •  You can't use a knif to cut itself (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Unit Zero, SoCaliana

        Ina  similar vein, trying to use consciousness to understand consciousness is sort of tricky.

        Personally, I am of the opinion the consciousness depends on substance, that there is no component of consciousness that exists outside of the known physical universe. An exact copy of all a person's molecules would necessarily be a copy of the person's consciousness. Each copy would feel, internally, like the "real" person.

        Perhaps the best exploration of this idea in all of science fiction is Greg Egan's Permutation City. I can't recommend the book highly enough.

        •  imagine all of the religious treatises and edicts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          which will have to be issued when/if we achieve AI. I can see the "religiously minded" all up in sorts over this--especially the most conservative and reactionary among them.

        •  That still begs the question of "youness", (0+ / 0-)

          … or subjective identity. You experience being "in" your body and somehow receiving sense impressions mediated by its anatomical structures.

          Why are you "reporting" from inside that particular body? Why not some other body?

          The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

          by lotlizard on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 12:10:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Some of this is touched upon in a novel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana, Larsstephens

    by our very own David Brin - Existence, check it out.

    If you play Microsoft CD's backwards, you hear satanic things, but that's nothing, because if you play them forwards, they install Windows.

    by Unit Zero on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 12:21:01 PM PDT

  •  You have to be carefully taught. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens
  •  I doubt a truly intelligent and aware 'droid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, Nowhere Man

    with a sense of comprehending "right and wrong" would wipe out humanity, because that would be "robo-supremacy" which they would recognize as a flawed ideology akin to any other "racial" supremacy.

    More like they'd take power from us, seizing things considered "dangerous", and then try to steer us towards enlightenment.

    I hope I get a bowl with my name on it. That'd be cool. But I want to eat at the table, heh.

  •  Isn't an android already running for President? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, Calamity Jean

    I'd love to see a run-off between Bina48 and the Romnoid 2012 to see which acts more life-like.

    Romney 2012 - Enough.... is never enough. (Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #97)

    by Fordmandalay on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:19:22 PM PDT

  •  color me too peace/love/harmony etc., but my bet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    is robots will figure altruism being the default position for hard to solve social problems as being the most logically beneficial course.  the solutions to mankind's problems as presented by Ghandi, the Dalai llama, et. al. have never really been tried on a mass/planetary scale.  i'd like to believe whatever is the next step up would give those things a shot.

    note: its' possible dolphins and whales realized millenia ago what our great sages have more or less recently on the evolutionary time scale just figured out.  it could explain why they're so effing cool.  and seriously tolerant of us lesser entities.

    and the Lord spoke unto Abraham and said "I shall give you obedient & subservient wives in all the corners of the world" and Abraham said, "But Lord, you have made the earth round" and the Lord spaketh, "ROFLMAO."

    by bnasley on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:49:43 PM PDT

  •  A relevant question in this context is: (0+ / 0-)

    Will AI's see themselves as a different ethnicity/race/species from humans?  I tend to think not, because the process of giving AI's personalities will of necessity make them reflect (at least at first) our own personalities.  And we may actually see the first AIs take the form of personality "downloading," as Bina does.  

    Too much focus seems to be put on AI robots rather than AI.  For some reason we seem to assume any "real" AI will have to have a body of some kind, when, in fact, the first successful conscious AI's will be purely virtual.  (As a side issue, an argument could be made that we humans are also virtual and thus no different from an AI existing in a gameworld construct).  Once hard AI becomes possible, its interaction with the physical world will probably take many forms, of which a single robot is the least interesting one.

    I was watching a show on Science channel the other day (watch how spacy I am, here) about the Planet Finder project and the search for other planets, and the prospect that some distant time in the future we will send humans to visit other planets.  

    If we assume that hard conscious AI will become possible before then, then it makes sense for the first such voyages to be made with an AI, possibly AI's made of downloaded human personalities, like Bina48's (although, hopefully, in a much more sophisticated form).  If we also assume the transportation of human beings across light years of space will, at least at first, be prohibitively expensive compared to sending a tiny computer, then the first colonizations will be done with AI.  

    Now, you might leap ahead and wonder, perhaps such colonies could take frozen human embryos, and then, after the AI has established a base camp, growing the embryos to full size and populating distant planets with the human race that way.  Except... why would the AI want to do that?  Unless it's a slave.  How long could a real AI, if it is to be that effective and capable of conscious choice, be kept in the position of a slave to its programming?  

  •  Chauncey (0+ / 0-)

    From time to time I check out your site, my brother please stop wasting your breath on the folks at this site.

    http://recordings.talkshoe.com/...

  •  A cute piece of interactive fiction. (0+ / 0-)

    Bina48 that is.

  •  Can they give her Hatsune Miku's vocaloid voice? (0+ / 0-)

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 12:12:23 PM PDT

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