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  1. #1
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    At what point can we call a machine alive?

    In a way, the computer chips in our laptops may be a primordial ooze for a future form of intelligent life. Also, we are robots ourselves in a sense of biochemical nature. Could we say that an android like Commander Data or C-3PO are alive and have souls?

  2. #2
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    Well, I suppose a day might come when a programmer asks his computer, "do you have any objection to me destroying you?"

    If the computer says, "yes, I do protest," then it would be reasonable to consider the machine to be self-aware to some degree.

    (This gives me an idea for a short story. . .)

    To be honest, I don't believe such a day will ever occur.
    Last edited by kamalayka; January 21st, 2013 at 11:53 AM.

  3. #3
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    Your welcome for the idea. If people ask where you got the idea, do tell them. What about Asimov's bicentennial man, does that mean anything?

  4. #4
    http://tinyurl.com/363ogv DurzoBlint's Avatar
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    When they can chose the right filter for themselves on a instagram photo.

    Kidding, I think when they can make complex decisions or leaps in the decision process through observation.

  5. #5
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    Okay. It's just a vague idea, though.
    Last edited by kamalayka; January 21st, 2013 at 03:10 PM.

  6. #6
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    Not for nuthin but have any of you talked to Jeeney AI? It's an actual natural language AI online. Not saying it's particularly self-aware but it sure raises the bar on others I've seen.

    There are some basic reqs in the chat in order for it to perform properly due to the learning parameters (which are exceedingly rare in this type of programming online). Good spelling, grammar and full context relation to name a few but I digress...

    I'm a bit of an artificial intelligence freak. :P

  7. #7
    Registered User gljones's Avatar
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    When it pays taxes(snare drum in background).
    I'm here all day folks.

  8. #8
    Well, start from "When it can pass the Turing Test" and build additional requirements off that.

    AI's might be very different from people, in that they could be entirely and completely motivated by one central goal, and not capable of spontaneously developing new goals unrelated to their primary goal. For example, imagine a self-aware true AI that had, as its only goal, protecting the life of the President without violating other laws. It might be quite creative in fufilling its goal, and might spontaneously develop secondary goals, like building a better satellite surveillance system or bullet proof business attire. But it would never fall in love, get lost in art or beauty, nor redefine its central goal. Would such a limited AI meet your definition of "alive"? Would you consider it murder to eliminate such an AI if the decision was made to back to human bodyguards? What would you do with it if you didnt turn it off -- i.e. wouldnt reprogramming it be the same as killing it?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtNJ View Post
    Well, start from "When it can pass the Turing Test" and build additional requirements off that.
    You're suggesting that an offhand comment made by one of the original developers of the first electronic computers to sedate a journalist holds validity in a whole lot of assumed dimensions. You're assuming intelligence hasn't changed in definition, has been agreed on unanimously world wide and that ONLY a human being is intelligent. You're putting your faith in thoughts on a science that didn't evolve with the science they pertained to.

    That in and of itself destroys all faiths because it means God is unintelligent. You've demoted the intelligence of dolphins saving the lives of sailors at sea to worthlessness and you're assuming that intelligence is all facets of the brain at once and not individually. PLUS the Turing test is often beaten by simple chatbots, it's just not 'regularly' beaten.


    If the half dozen whimsical rebuttals didn't shake your way of thinking, it's not that artificial intelligence is so far off, it's that the ability for the human mind to cope with a co-existing intelligence is that far off.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaelren View Post
    You're suggesting that an offhand comment made by one of the original developers of the first electronic computers to sedate a journalist holds validity in a whole lot of assumed dimensions. You're assuming intelligence hasn't changed in definition, has been agreed on unanimously world wide and that ONLY a human being is intelligent. You're putting your faith in thoughts on a science that didn't evolve with the science they pertained to.

    That in and of itself destroys all faiths because it means God is unintelligent. You've demoted the intelligence of dolphins saving the lives of sailors at sea to worthlessness and you're assuming that intelligence is all facets of the brain at once and not individually. PLUS the Turing test is often beaten by simple chatbots, it's just not 'regularly' beaten.


    If the half dozen whimsical rebuttals didn't shake your way of thinking, it's not that artificial intelligence is so far off, it's that the ability for the human mind to cope with a co-existing intelligence is that far off.
    An AI that can do everything a dolphin does would be "alive"? Is that the standard? What about an AI that acts exactly as a fruit fly would act in all circumstances. If you get the programming right, you basically have a mechanical fruit fly. Imagine you could create a mechanical fruit fly that could utilize organic compounds to create new mechanical fruit flies, creating a self-perpetuating line of mechanical fruit flies. How, if at all, does such a thing differ from a fruit fly so that one is alive and the other is not?

    I think part of the problem you and I are having is that the OP used the word "alive" rather than something like "self-aware" or "sentient" or some combination of similar terms. "Alive" is not a particularly good word to be using in this context.

    If what you are saying is that its possible to create an artificial problem solving intelligence that could function at the level of a dolphin or dog, plainly that is correct. However, if we put the bar at this level, it would be very hard to distinguish between a "Chinese Room" type program and a truly self-aware intelligence.

    Administered properly, the Turing Test can (perhaps) weed out limited but sophisticated programs that are not self-aware. Probably an exceptionally sophisticated Chinese Room type program could one day be constructed that would fool any Turing Test...but of course, that does raise an interesting metaphysical question of exactly what one should call a program of this remarkable sophistication. (The recent novel Blindsight is interesting in this regard.)
    Last edited by ArtNJ; January 24th, 2013 at 10:49 AM.

  11. #11
    Searching for Tanelorn Val_1999's Avatar
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    I am having trouble understanding the criteria for "alive" does the OP mean self awareness? Feels pain?

    My iphone can do amazing things, but its not alive. An ant is alive, a plant is alive.

    Specifically to your examples;

    ** C3PO as I understand it was not alive, he was created by Anikin as a multi-functional droid but mostly used as a translator.

    ** Commander Data spent his entire life searching for a "soul", trying to become human. He had a pet cat, he was referred to as Mr Data, not "hey robot". He had friends, and best friends (LaForge), why did he have a best friend? Why did he prefer the company of some to others?? He constantly struggled with morality and ethics and asked his friends for help. Data was trusted by his peers to offers opinions, to watch their children, to just chat. He loved Sherlock Holmes stories and playing poker. Kids are often a great indicator of people I find, and kids loved Data, probably because he looked at the world with the same wonder they did. As far I as was concerned, Data was very much alive.

    I am with Kaelren.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtNJ View Post
    An AI that can do everything a dolphin does would be "alive"? Is that the standard? What about an AI that acts exactly as a fruit fly would act in all circumstances. If you get the programming right, you basically have a mechanical fruit fly. Imagine you could create a mechanical fruit fly that could utilize organic compounds to create new mechanical fruit flies, creating a self-perpetuating line of mechanical fruit flies. How, if at all, does such a thing differ from a fruit fly so that one is alive and the other is not?

    I think part of the problem you and I are having is that the OP used the word "alive" rather than something like "self-aware" or "sentient" or some combination of similar terms. "Alive" is not a particularly good word to be using in this context.

    If what you are saying is that its possible to create an artificial problem solving intelligence that could function at the level of a dolphin or dog, plainly that is correct. However, if we put the bar at this level, it would be very hard to distinguish between a "Chinese Room" type program and a truly self-aware intelligence.

    Administered properly, the Turing Test can (perhaps) weed out limited but sophisticated programs that are not self-aware. Probably an exceptionally sophisticated Chinese Room type program could one day be constructed that would fool any Turing Test...but of course, that does raise an interesting metaphysical question of exactly what one should call a program of this remarkable sophistication. (The recent novel Blindsight is interesting in this regard.)
    I haven't confused intelligence with alive, I've been responding to your context of artificial intelligence as a generality. Intelligence exists at every level. Fruit flies and all, it can be the automatic adjust-ability of a thermostat. To say intelligence only exists at a human level is simply wrong. The appropriate context wouldn't be the generality but the specification. Artificial intelligence won't be at the average Joe's capacity until it can be considered the same caliber as the average joe 5 out of 10 would be proper context... But even this forgets the bell curve. If the intelligence is too far beyond human in any direction it will still raise the chances to fail that model of test thus making it perfectly useless because the moment you add something utilitarian like calculator functionality, you give it super genius scale mathematical skills in leaps and bounds.

    The Chinese room thought experiment changes this context AGAIN to 'suggest' dividing intelligence into terms of understanding and emulating. Emulating is loosely defined as match or surpass. The hiccup is that typical interpretation is at a high level, an emulation of intelligence and not the components that drive it. Tell me, if you match or surpass the components that drive intelligence and you match or surpass the mode of relativity between them...what do you get if not artificial intelligence? The proper full context is that it can't be the same, one is artificial and thus limited to our interpretation of it which as we can see, remains divided by gaps in awareness which influence perception.

    No we won't often if ever see many computers score at the average Joe level. In part due to our own lack of understanding each part but more so because when we specify logic for a computer we usually want to to be better than what we would do ourselves in some form or another or it wouldn't have much point. Nobody is aiming at the average Joe sweet-spot. Jeoprady just got their 'smartest' competitors hammered into the ground by IBM's Watson. Watson was proven to be more effective at recalling contextual information relative to speech than 'brilliant' people. A calculator which is automated might process any given event better than a person. Add all human brain nuances converted to logic into one system and get them interacting... you have yourself an intelligence well beyond a human being with logic you couldn't possibly keep pace with.

    Additionally, an unlimited program would have the knowledge of all things. Nobody I assure you is sitting in their basement right now pretending to be building God. All things in context. Even one that matched all realms of human logic but could map it further due to dedication of processing power and unlimited memory would already be super expanded upon compared to us, were talking triple digit IQ and growing fast til singularity status and onto God-like knowing. This kind of science will be the equivalent of breaking light speed in a submarine. It makes a nice read but that's all it's ever going to be. Stephen Hawking wasn't wrong on that account.

    So the chinese room being a means of strong and weak AI definition is misleading as hell. It should say Variable and Impossible AI

  13. #13
    Peckish hippokrene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac Law View Post
    At what point can we call a machine alive?
    When they engage in a number of biological processes including digestion, homeostasis, stimulus response, and growth.

    In a way, the computer chips in our laptops may be a primordial ooze for a future form of intelligent life. Also, we are robots ourselves in a sense of biochemical nature.
    Please elaborate. I'm pretty sure that my mother's bread rolls have a biochemical nature.

    Could we say that an android like Commander Data or C-3PO are alive and have souls?
    No, there's no indication they're alive. Whether they have souls would depends on your religion or spiritual inclinations. Shinto, for example, claims that everything over 100 years old can be imbued with a spirit. If a mountain, tree, or metal statue can have a spirit, I see no reason why a machine can't.

    My great-aunt has a water pump that's over a century old, so that ought to qualify.
    Last edited by hippokrene; January 28th, 2013 at 05:00 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by hippokrene View Post
    When they engage in a number of biological processes including digestion, homeostasis, stimulus response, and growth.


    Please elaborate. I'm pretty sure that my mother's bread rolls have a biochemical nature.


    No, there's no indication they're alive. Whether they have souls would depends on your religion or spiritual inclinations. Shinto, for example, claims that everything over 100 years old can be imbued with a spirit. If a mountain, tree, or metal statue can have a spirit, I see no reason why a machine can't.

    My great-aunt has a water pump that's over a century old, so that ought to qualify.
    Nice replies and very true.
    The question of souls will never be answered. Until some dead person comes back to earth and offers us some incontravertable proof that not even scientists can deny.
    We can't even answer our own condition regarding us human beings having a soul or not. It's scientifically probable that we're nothing more than an advanced animal. That when we die it's simply lights out - oblivion.
    So, not even being able to quantify nor qualify our own state of soul, it seems quite pointless to even contemplate that some machine we might make deserves more contemplation about it's spiritual side than our own?

  15. #15
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Since life is defined by bio-chemical reactions that support self-maintenance (and, usually, reproduction), and since machines are designed around bio-mechanical reactions... I don't think you can ever call a machine "alive." If it is alive... it's not really a machine any more.

    But perhaps more important is whether those machines can be considered sentient... conscious... self-aware... and how significant those definitions are to considering machines to be our equals. And consider that we haven't nailed down those definitions yet, even in terms of humans; so applying them to other creatures is problematic.

    Like so many things, I suspect our vocabulary isn't quite suitable for the issue at hand: Whether machines can be considered the same as people.

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