1. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Playing God

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ToBeInspired, Jun 1, 2016.

    With technological advancement this becomes more and more of an issue.

    Cloning, "growing" organs, A.I., etc.

    This thread concerns all of those and any others that may pertain. Thoughts on the morality of it? Faith in Science or the Science of Faith?

    I'll let all of you choose which topic you talk about. I'm going to start us off though.

    Artificial Intelligence started as a field of serious study in the mind-1950s. Expectations were high until around the mid-1970s when it was concluded that technology was not advanced enough to meet initial hopes. In 2005, the Canadian Instistute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) rekindled interest in A.I. technology with a program led by Geoffrey Hinton that led to the advent of "Deep Learning."

    I'll skip making this an essay and jump to now-a-days. Uber, Google, and General Motors have spent billions on research toward drierless cars.

    Virtual reality started off as a combat simulator for pilot fighters. Though, I believe the idea was inspired by cyberspace which many cyberpunk sci-fi authors wrote about priorly. Currently, there's a lot of interest in utilizing it for the entertainment industry.

    "Virtual reality won't merely replace TV. It will eat it alive." - Arthur C. Clarke

    Here's were my imagination goes with all of this. An advanced A.I. that is capable of forming any virtual reality that can be imagined. Skip all the talk of neurons, memory scans, or any of that. Just image point A and point B for now.

    You can experience absolutely anything you can imagine.

    Isn't that... virtually the power of a god? It may be an illusion, but hell it'll feel real.

    I get that a lot of issues could arise, but still... I'd pick that one over any of the rest.

    Side-question: If you could have any virtual reality created for you, what would you do? You could consider for personal use, as a marketable business, or simply a single experience.
     
  2. Quixote's Biographer
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    Quixote's Biographer Member

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    Whenever I hear about new technological developments like these I can't help thinking that it's yet another step away from fellowship with other human beings and a step towards loneliness and isolation. I'm not bitter or anything and I'm definitely not against technological development, but I do see the negative, asocial and unhealthy side of it as well which I think is rarely mentioned but worth reflecting on.
     
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  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    This feels like more of a debate room topic, but I guess it'll depend on how people behave.

    THB, I'm an atheist and the term 'playing god' means nothing to me. I think technological advancement is great - it's only up to humans to apply our knowledge and abilities in moral ways. We don't always do that, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't strive for what you might consider 'godly' powers. Think of the good we can do, too - in the case of virtual reality, for instance, providing people who are severely paralyzed with novel and enriching experiences without the strain or impossibility of leaving their beds.

    I disagree with the common notion that technology drives us apart. Personally, the majority of my friends - and certainly the ones I feel closer to - are ones I've met online. I'd feel far more lonely and isolated if I'd never been able to meet and hang out with them, and I know it's the case for a lot of them too. If I had the option of visiting a virtual space that gave me the illusion I was actually in the same room as them, you can bet I'd jump on it.
     
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  4. newjerseyrunner
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    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    I'm certain that humans since the beginning of our development of technology have had those individuals who said it conflicted with their god.

    Your group can make fire? Sorcery!
    You pour that hot glowing liquid into the ground and an axe comes out? Demon!
    Your village takes god's plants and cultivates them yourselves? That's unnatural!

    Technology is technology, we are part of nature. If you think about where other intelligent species might be, our technology is infantile.
     
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  5. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    It sounds to me like you've got two different technologies going on here:

    1) Virtual Reality, aka "The Holodeck"
    2) Artificial Intelligence

    I don't see so much of a problem in virtual reality. Basically, it would just be an upgrade on television or computer (console or desktop, not going to argue that one) gaming. As such, most people are going to be going to providers (companies, co-ops, freelance programmers) to create the realities that they want because, let's face it, most people don't have very rich and detailed imaginations. That's not intended as an insult, but everyone here knows the frustration of trying to build, if not a world, at least a storyline within the "real" world that will hold together.

    So gaming slowly morphs into VR, whether you prefer to play single or multiplayer. In multiplayer mode, your powers are going to be more limited because if everyone is Superman, no one is.

    The greater moral question comes (Debate Room territory) from the AI question. There's a point on the curve of increasing artificial intelligence where you've created real awareness and "self".

    There are two things that happen then that I think are arguably true:

    1) You've become (a) god.
    2) You've reinstituted slavery.

    This is the knotty moral question.
     
  6. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Its like when the kings of old were all, "No, people can't rule by a vote, they'll destroy everything!"

    Everyone is terrified of the 'singularity' but lets be honest, humanity needs a baby sitter.

    If we make some great thinking machine, it'll make way better decisions than us. If this thing has a sense of self, then it'll have a sense of morality. Maybe it will destroy us, and if it does, maybe that's the right decision.
     
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  7. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Peering upon our tiny blue planet, is a race of super intelligent beings waiting while you fall into the illusion of reality. That is when they will strike and conquer man, while he runs from the reality that is, to the reality that he imagines. Well nice knowin ya, your new overlords will bust a gut as we make their conquest all the more laughable. :p
     
  8. Auger
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    Auger Senior Member

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    As a real biological human being, I openly welcome OUR NEW ROBOT OVERLORDS.
     
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  9. Moth
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    Moth Active Member

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    Okay, so lets imagine that A.I. computer thingamabob capable of creating a reality so detailed and perfect that it is indistinguishable from reality. How do you know you're not already in that simulation of reality right now? Or, to make it a bit less far-fetched, how do you know that you're not in a padded white cell dreaming all this up?

    To me, the question isn't between what's real and what's not. It's this; if your entire life up 'til now was in fact a dream, would you want to wake from it? To me, true reality is no where near as important as the reality I perceive and have lived in all these years.

    As for the whole "playing god" thing, I've never really understood why it's bad. Wouldn't curing cancer, for example, be playing god because you'd be saving lives that would otherwise have naturally ended? As long as people are responsible and appropriately cautious with new technologies and discoveries, I see no reason to doubt or impede them.
     

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