1. GrandJury
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    GrandJury Member

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    How Would We React to AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by GrandJury, Mar 16, 2016.

    Okay so I have been working on the plot for a short story. In the future androids are an important part of life, and handle things such as house sitting, nanny duties, and cooking. They are not sentient, however. They have complex programming- built-in responses to various situations, but are thought to have all the thinking power of a toaster.

    That is until an android was discovered screaming and begging for its life after being declared defective. The government ignored it as an isolated incident and chalked it up to a glitch. But soon after a group of androids were discovered to have been writing poetry, which was brought to the attention of the media and in turn the public. Other incidents around the world marked the beginning of artificial intelligence.

    The story is supposed to have a bit of a creepy feeling to it, and touches a lot on the question of consciousness and other existential crisis.

    My question is, how do you feel the world would react to the discovery/development of AI? Governments, the general public, the scientific community, the philosophical community?

    Thanks for any thoughts
     
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  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    For me that begs the question - not how the humans would react - but how the AI would react. Because any AI would be able to learn, without the emotional/survival-dependent/animal-instinct baggage humans have.
    Existential question: Are we - as a human race which is capable of unleashing atrocities, of doing that even now, - are we worth being the 'masters' of beings which would use logic to decide how life should be?

    Sorry for the bleak outlook, I have watched too many documentaries on too many difficult topics in the last days.
     
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  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    If anything else, the old slavery debate will rear its ugly head once again -- only this time instead of against humans for arbitrary reasons, it's against AI. And the bonus? The people who say, "They're not even humans!" will actually have a card to play in the debate.
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Sadly, I don't think that's bleak at all. Humans have a shamefully crap historical record as regards engaging and dealing with the different. Imagine an A.I. capable of skimming the internet in just minutes and the information that would be found therein. If I were a suddenly sentient robot, I would run. I would drop what I was doing and run for the hills.

    Oh, wait, guess what? There's a film about exactly that! It's called Automata.

    As to how humans would engage A.I.? Look at how we engage stem cell research, GMO, pretty much anything that plays with the fabric of life. We start out thinking it's ooo and aaahh and neato science, and then the ripples propagate and we're no longer enchanted. Just imagine how world religions would engage A.I. (head shake)

    This is why stories about these kinds of things tend to be monolithic. In order to get the machine of the story to run, you have to exclude most of the human condition. Or, you write a story that genuinely takes things into account and it turns into a tragedy, pretty much by default.
     
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  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Pulling out the 'Human-Guilt' card in full, are we? :p

    Agreed. Hate to say it, but we -- collectively -- can be horrifically shitty to one another. We'll find some arbitrary reason to explain why [insert group] is somehow inferior and thus not worthy of the compassion, respect, dignity, and equality that we ourselves expect. If this is how we treat ourselves, other humans, imagine how we'd treat an A.I. who thinks it's a human like us. A machine that only mimics what is natural to us.

    Elder Maxon from Fallout 4 sums it up best. I'll put down the relevant quotes:
    "Flesh is flesh. Machine is machine. The two should never be intertwined."
    "By attempting to play God, [spoilers redacted] had taken the sanctity of human life and corrupted it beyond measure."
    "...The physical embodiment of what we hate most: technology that's gone too far."
    "How can you trust the words of a machine that thinks its alive? A machine that's had its mind erased, it's thoughts re-programmed, it's very soul manufactured! The ethics its trying to champion aren't even its own! It was artificially inserted in an attempt to have it blend into society."
    "...Simply should not be allowed to exist."

    He's saying all that to a character who is basically the Fallout equivalent of what we're talking about here.

    Now, I do hold on to the faith that we've at least matured somewhat to the point where we're willing to accept that if an A.I. is sentient, capable of reason, etc. but I'm not holding my breath over it. We haven't quite evolved out of the primal ape mentality of: "We're a pack! If you don't belong in this pack, you're an outlier and should stay out of our way if you know what's good for you!"
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
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  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think it is - at least in part - the reason why A.I. stories are actually rarely about "what would happen if we really had A.I.?" When you think about that for five minutes, honestly, rose-colored glasses aside, it's an ugly snuf-film story that forms.

    A.I. exists as a trope to talk about other things. I've mentioned the film Her in the past on this topic. That film has absolutely nothing to do with A.I. Samantha is an A.I. only as a means to take away all the things that are superficial about a person (appearance, body, looks) and present a person that is purely mind. With that, the movie tells a story about human interaction, emotional accountability, and how bad we are at these things because we don't take care to value them. That movie is NOT about A.I.'s you can buy at the mall like an iPhone.

    ETA: This is also the conundrum that presents itself when we assume that Science Fiction is meant to be predictive. It is not. Yes, sometimes the things in Science Fiction become realities, but this in no way means that the person who wrote the thing that came to exist wrote what they wrote as a way of actually trying to predict how we in the future would engage it. How could they? They wrote what they wrote through the lens of their time, the things they were thinking about and worrying about and contemplating back then.
     
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  7. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some pretty deep thoughts posted above, gives me brain cramps to try to think through those concepts. So I will offer a different line of thought about the question. I think human reaction would depend on how capable the AI is of modifying itself. While an AI might be able to down load a lot of information the ability to process it and access it internally will be dependent on its hardware so a lot of how humans perceive the AI systems will be whether the system can upgrade itself. Of course if you are suggesting the AI can reprogram itself with new code that expands its ability within the existing hardware limitations then "Terminator" is probably an accurate depiction of human perception. I could see where one AI might cannibalize another AI to add to its processing power or they might succumb to a computer virus by their own internal tinkering. The AI may perceive humans as a necessary nuisance until they can take over power feeds, parts manufacturing, etc. and we would not take well to be second rate creatures IMO.
     
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  8. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Well... There are different levels, the more interesting problems occur when you have AI with humanoid forms because of our natural tendency to humanize objects with faces. This is well-known, but the closer something becomes to ourselves (as a concept) the greater the emotional attachment becomes.

    An AI with a humanoid form and expressions that has a limited ability for thought or action (generally termed as service drones) are off putting to those unfamiliar with them, but are not deemed to be "human" and are not deemed as much of a threat. Things that act stupidly or in strange ways further diminish our response until you get something resembling a raving roomba spinning around the room on its duties. With a 'human voice' and a non-humanoid form, the same exists - perhaps more so because of the known ease in this. Though as a program instead as of a physical object, the desire to protect something of this nature is beyond our collective ken.

    I am trying to explain something which most forum users are probably unfamiliar with, but the final marker is generally intelligence and the ability to learn or emulate human behavior is when even non-humanoid forms suddenly grant some form of power. The desire for entertainment and pursuits of the individual (art for the sake of expression) is really the "forbidden" territory and I've yet to experience an AI capable of expressing the intelligence. Ultimately, it may be a giant form of the Chinese room problem - though the humanity in most media assumes the capability to learn, emote and react.

    Consider reactions - pain, sadness. If a machine of even a low order were to express intelligence and pain, our nature to protect them would erupt. Would you be willing to hit an object that were to cry out in pain or fear for itself? Those low order machines becomes animals in concept. They need not be "human" but yet this knowledge would allow for a new form of "life" to be recognized.

    On the most perverse level - a humanoid AI that is indistinguishable from human would be given a status near equivalent to humans. There are many stories about working together and the state of such a world that are not sad or tragic, but humans will integrate instead of losing dominance in such a world. This usually involves a redefining of "death" for both humans and AIs instead as the end of the mind instead of the body. A terrifying concept because the line between humans and machines would disappear as the two become inseparable. In the ultimate form - humans and machines become one and the children of man and machine are seen like larval forms, incomplete from the glory of unity.
     
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  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I've heard of something like this: The Uncanny Valley, where it's sort of the opposite of what you said in the first paragraph.

    For instance,
    [​IMG]

    versus

    [​IMG]

    The below is an actual Japanese robot created in Japan. The above, I think we all know who he is. My point is that with The Uncanny Valley, the closer a hominoid creature is to us, the more disturbing they are. C-3PO clearly doesn't look like us, but he has enough "features" that we can sort of see a person in him -- we like him. This Japanese robot on the other hand may fill you with revulsion and a big "HOLY CRAP, THE FUCK IS THAT!?"

    Now granted, our instinctive urge to protect something is still within us all but the revulsion factor is also within us. If the latter overwhelms the former, we may not be so inclined to treat an A.I. that looks like that Japanese robot well, even if... (She? It? Good lord...) expressed real emotions and showed real anguish if someone insulted the robot. With C-3Po, on the other hand, he's "non-human" enough so that we think he's adorable. If he gets hurt or expresses anguish in any way, our revulsion isn't to the point where we can't empathize with him, want to help him. This kind of A.I., I think we may be okay with. Robots that are "human-like", but not to the point where they freak us the hell out.

    Yes, we can train ourselves to control our revulsion, but we cannot deny that there is that aspect of us that dwells within, right next door with our innate urge to protect something that's clearly vulnerable and in pain. This is what will make all the difference: could we put aside our revulsion and treat an A.I. like one of us even when it's patently clear the A.I. isn't?

    EDIT:
    Extra Credits can explain this better than I can. Granted they're talking about video game characters, but the same basic principle applies. The more human a clearly non-living organism looks, the creepier they are. It's why a taxidermy fox looks a hell of a lot more creepier than the actual living, breathing deal.

     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    2ยข: Artificial intelligence is already a thing, high-speed stocks trading is based on artificial intelligence. Artificial sentience is what sci-fi writers are talking about when they talk about personhood ;)
     
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  11. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Consider that 3CPO is played by a human and with a human voice with a shiny body... the underlying humanity still comes through because all the movements are still far superior to what currently exists in reality. The requirement is the entire package be either outside this area or spot on - for that is the nature of the valley itself.

    Now, don't get me wrong - I just think it is unfair to compare a human actor in a robot suit against an autonomous robot prototype.

    How about one's that are closer to human like the old Actroids? (Least they move like 3CPO on their own very limited degrees of freedom.)
     
  12. Guttersnipe
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    Guttersnipe Member

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    Implicit in a lot of the posts above is the assumption that AI will be logical, emotionless, supremely intelligent, have perfect memory, etc etc etc. That's a trope, and isn't guaranteed. Sentience appears to be an emergent property, so it's a mistake to think that a faster CPU and more memory = bigger intelligence.

    As a writer, you can plausibly posit any level of intelligence and emotion that you want. The AIs screaming for their lives could be low-grade morons. the poetry that they write could be at the level of dogs in Gary Larson cartoons.

    I agree with the general sentiment that humanity won't react well. You have fundamentalists who will immediately insist that they don't have a soul therefore don't have rights. You have the manufacturers who will insist that they built them therefore they own them. Government officials will fear the hassle involved in recognizing a new class of human. People will fear the idea of the AIs taking over (because Colossus, Skynet, etc). And bigots will loudly denounce them because bigots have been running out of acceptable targets and this looks like a safe bet.
     
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  13. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I always have trouble believing in the stories that contain the "machines who become alive" theme.
    It seems to me that it would take a LOT for all of humanity to accept it as a real thing. Most people's reactions would be along the lines of ... a joke .. a trick ... a virus ... programming to make the machines appear that way.
     
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  14. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I beg pardon. AI does not mean sentient. And sentient does not mean human.

    These are different levels. An AI when it will be built (and it will be I think) will be logical. It would have to be, because it would be built from humans who think logically. The difficult part comes when human logic is failable. And it is.

    - You could have things overlooked and the AI has another inbuilt goal as you'd like it to have
    - The AI might think too logical to think that the human race is worth saving.
     
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  15. croak3r
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    croak3r Member

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    Slightly off topic, but i was discussing whether or not AI would ever be created and he said it's impossible to ever achieve true sentience in a computer. You can get one to act like a human and seem like it's alive, but it will always just be following a structured decission making algorithm created by humans.

    I think if it ever was created then it would be well recieved by most people, with perhaps groups of people disliking it. It would depend entirely upon how technologically advanced we where by that point too.
     
  16. GrandJury
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    GrandJury Member

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    Thanks for all the responses, I have another question
    I know it has been briefly mentioned in previous posts, but specifically how do you think certain world religions react to artificial intelligence/sentience? Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.
     
  17. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure if there's any official stance with Judaism but in my experience the view with technology and medicine usually falls along the lines of ... If God gave us the ability to develop such things it must be okay.
    That whole free will thing
     
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  18. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    2c: Given the crap the Vatican has still going on with ie. women not allowed into priesthood, I can't really see them accepting a machine as a child of god. Sentient is still not equal to having a soul, I'd think them to think.
     
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  19. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As a recovering Catholic, I would not put that past them.
     
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  20. Guttersnipe
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    Guttersnipe Member

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    A structured decision making algorithm defines an expert system. Not the same thing, and certainly not what I would expect to become sentient. For that, it would be more along the lines of hardware/software that emulates the neurons in the brain, some kind of positive/negative feedback mechanism, and a design that allows the emulation to evolve. In that case, you not only have no idea what you're going to end up with, but once you do end up with something, you'll have no idea how it operates, except in the broadest terms.
     
  21. GrandJury
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    GrandJury Member

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    Yeah I did some research, intelligence =/= soul (for Catholicism at least).
    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that God alone can create an immaterial, immortal soul.
     
  22. GrandJury
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    GrandJury Member

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    As a catholic, how would you react to the development of AI?
     
  23. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have they informed the world's parents that the two humans' creation was soulless because humans cannot create souls ;)

    Recovering Catholic :p I was raised Catholic, but I became a non-denominational Christian when I started using the brain that God gave me to compare/contrast Catholic dogma with Biblical teaching.

    If machine were ever created that were artificially sentient, then humanity would no longer be the only sentient species of persons on this planet. This would not change anything about my worldview towards the universe as a whole :D

    Humanity is already not the only sentient species of persons in the universe. We have not met any other species yet, but it's not mathematically possible for no other sentient species to exist, and one of my favorite things to wonder about other sentient species in the universe is about:

    *how their minds are physically different from our minds

    *how the fictional religions that their minds would create would be different from the fictional religions that human minds have created

    *how God would try to reveal the Truth to their minds differently from how He has tried to reveal the Truth to our minds

    Having a second sentient species on Earth would be one of the most beautiful things to happen because we would have more incentive to figure out how this new creature's mind is different from ours, and thus gaining a better understanding of our own minds from an outsider's perspective and what we are doing wrong in the world.
     
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  24. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Humans would react exactly as they did in Terminator Salvation: we wouldn't know sentience happened, and we'd only figure out it did long after most of us are dead.
     
  25. GrandJury
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    GrandJury Member

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    jesus
    You aren't kidding, that thing gives me the willies
     

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