Ethically intelligent Artificial Intelligence
by Vicgtor on April 3, 2015 - 1:17pm
From your cellphone to your car, more and more devices are being controlled by software. This is a tendency which seems to be spreading around us at an amazingly fast speed. Micro controllers are being implemented in all kind of things, such as cookers, laundry machines, television sets and many more. This is done for convenience and in the past, few years we even saw the integration of Artificial Intelligence in our everyday lives. I am referring to Apple's well known Siri. Siri is a software program that acts like a human, you can talk to her and she will answer in a humanly coherent way. She can even simulate emotions. The day were you will have a robot serving you might be closer than you think, we currently have both the technology to make a walking devices that can handle objects (robot arms have been doing this in the industry for years) and the software basis which would allow us to create a fully autonomous artificially intelligent computer. But what if one day these machines outsmart us and become superior to us? This is one of our greatest fears, the destruction of humanity by it's own technology advance and we are all exposed to it through movies and news articles. Here are two popular hits that support this idea, The Matrix and I,Robot.
The Matrix is a science-fiction movie by The Wachowski Brothers where the protagonist, Neo, is being introduced to the fact that the whole world he lives in is a computer program to which everyone is connected to and they all live their lives without ever knowing that their actual physical body is being used to power robots in the real world. Neo then spends the rest of the movies trying to free humanity from the grip of AIs to arrive to a peace between humans and computers so that they both agree to coexist. In the movies, the robots are displayed as these big metal made flying machines with tentacles, that only exterminate humans. They don't have emotions and can't sympathies with humans. Furthermore,the program that created the matrix, known as the architect, is shown as an extremely rational and smart old man, making him superior. In the movie, artificially controlled intelligences are depicted as dominant and this because of their lack of humans feelings, emotions and their rationality.
The second movie ,which came out more recently, revolved around the same ideas. I,Robot narrates the story of Spooner who lives in 2035. At that time, human looking robots are used as servants everywhere. Spooner is called to investigate the death of a pioneer in Artificial Intelligence creation, only to discover that a robot revolution is underway and that the central controlling program V.I.K.I. ,which is an AI, is the one trying to take over humanity. He ends up erasing V.I.K.I and restoring humanity's liberty. People are again outsmarted by an Artificial Intelligence program which makes use of power to restrain humans.
Both movies are fun to watch, but there is one thing which we have to admit, it's scary. The idea that our faith might be in the control of a program against which you have no power is frightening. Media sources, such as these movies, are reinforcing the fear we have for Artificial Intelligence technologies. They do this by crossing the line where we are no longer the ones who decide, but the ones who it is decided for. They makes us fear AI and this is done in many different ways, such as the use of extremely rational and emotions less personalities which represent computer programs trying to take over humanity. We have the power factor, we are humans and have a limited amount of physical strength, but robots, just as in both movies, are machines made out of metal, which makes them extremely solid and strong. We are basically powerless against robots.
The image we are exposed to is quite troubling, but is it ethical for the media to portray AI as a threat to humanity? Artificial Intelligence is extremely beneficial, robots are extremely precise. They are better at performing fine work, such as surgery and health care related problems. An artificially controlled device does not require rest and it can do a task for endless hours without the need of support. Furthermore, since they are not real livings, there are no ethical issues related to sending one to perform a dangerous task, which in the other case would be performed by a human which could possibly get injured or die.
Artificial intelligence could be used to resolve global issues, computers are well known for their ability to handle and analyze huge amounts of data in no time. They succeed where humans fail. From a teleological point of view based on utilitarianism, AI would allow for a better life in the community and in the world for every individual. We should not reject the development of new technologies in this field based on fears coming from the medias, because they are being unethical by slowing down the improvement of the well being of the community. In the science world, there have been speculations that AI technologies could lead to the eradication of diseases and poverty. It might me the clue to solving humanitarian problems. Of course it might be possibly dangerous technology, but like many other things, if it is approached the right way, it can be beneficial. Many scientists agree that one of the keys to making AI safer is to make it more human. This means introducing emotions and feelings in order for the program to be able to sympathies with us, to make it less rational.
To conclude, the image given by the media of AI is absolutely unethical. They are making us fear a technology which can save lives. The problem is even more profound when we consider that Artificial Intelligence might be the clue to solving global issues such as poverty, which are themselves under ethical debate. This technology has the potential to resolve many ethical problems, but the media are portraying it in a way which makes improvement in this field more and more difficult as we get closer to the line where we are no longer sure if we would still be able to control it.
If you are interested in the movies or would like to get more background information about them feel free to visit their wikipedia sites: