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« Materials for Nanomachinery | Main | Latest Issue of H+ Magazine »

February 23, 2009


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"These are hard questions"

No. They are not. Robots or AI or whatever are NOT flesh and blood. They will never FEEL anything, only at-best give a weirdly spooky approximation of emotion through highly complex programming. I nor anyone else should feel even the slightest twinge at the use or disposal of a TOASTER, though admittedly a well programmed one.

Mike Treder

But that's what makes the question so interesting. If an advanced AI, embodied in a humanoid robot, has senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch that approach or even exceed human senses, those senses would in fact be exactly as real as ours.

You and I don't "see" the real world, any more than a video camera does. What happens is that we get light impressions on our retina, triggering nerve impulses that pass to our brain where a visual image is formed. We see an approximation of reality, no different from our manufactured friend.

So, if this new creation can have all of our senses, or more likely senses that greatly exceed ours, and has an open connection to the Internet, where it can access the whole world's store of digital knowledge, at speeds you and I couldn't comprehend, and if it claims to have emotions analogous to our own, then wouldn't you hesitate at least a moment before throwing it into the rubbish bin?


Senses that greatly exceed ours? Unless what you are talking about is some sort of BIOLOGICAL entity, then NO, its is merely electronic feedback, and not EXPERIENCED at all. Merely data being interpreted, and appropriately acted upon by an intentless automaton by way of some pretty impressive programming. If you believe that to be anything else you exhibit a remarkable ignorance of a subject you rant on about constantly on this blog. TOASTER not life sir, and nope, not one moment of hesitation

Chris Phoenix

I have to agree with Indio more than Mike. Simply throwing parts in a box doesn't make a whole. Access to the Internet makes no difference. The fidelity of the senses makes almost no difference.

I don't see any particular reason why we'd want to give a military robot (or any other robot) the kind of emotional mechanisms that could experience pain in ways that raise real ethical issues.

In the end, I suspect that we will anthropomorphize our computer systems enough to give them rights long before any point where we "should" - just as we'd worry about a kid who tortured stuffed animals.


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