View Poll Results: Will programming ever become controversial with AI?

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  • Yes

    12 46.15%
  • No

    2 7.69%
  • Maybe

    6 23.08%
  • I don't know

    1 3.85%
  • Could you repeat the question

    3 11.54%
  • I don't watch Malcolm in the middle

    2 7.69%

Unethical programming - the truth is out there.

This is a discussion on Unethical programming - the truth is out there. within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Oh Lord, I can feel the religous argument about ready to explode itself noto the scene... Can't we all go ...

  1. #31
    Just one more wrong move. -KEN-'s Avatar
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    Oh Lord, I can feel the religous argument about ready to explode itself noto the scene...

    Can't we all go a month without a religious argument? it would make me sooo happy.

  2. #32
    Bobish
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    All this you have no will of your own stuff makes me wonder by i bother playing vidio games when what happens is destined to happen why dont i just turn of the system and on the vcr. Well its fun to think your in control. About AI there was a computer called hal that could learn and talk all that and it would just be the next step to give it a personality. Of corse this brings up the question if it acts like a person and for all practical perposes it is a person wouldn't it be unethical to turn it off. Wouldn't that ne like killing someone (your stoping their brain from functioning) and sure if you turn it back on whould their be the same consisness or would it be like a clone. That would be a place where having a soul would come in handy it would be like a restore disk when the computer crashes, or back up memory. You die it floats off, your reserect, it floats back. Well any way sorry for my inteuption back to quantum phisics. This has been an interesting discussion.

  3. #33
    Ethereal Raccoon Procyon's Avatar
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    I don't see any reason to think we do have any sort of a stream of consciousness. For example, imagine that we do have souls, but instead of being bound to a single individual they constantly migrate between them. However, memory has been scientifically demonstrated (to my satisfaction, at least) to be a property only of the brain: both short-term and long-term. So these entities would not be aware that they're constantly shifting around, because they have only the memories of their current host. The stream of consciousness is an illusion created by memory. I think it's easy to carry this further: now assume that only half the time an individual has a spirit host: this does not affect the perception of any of the hosts. Reduce to this figure from half indefinitely toward zero.

    The answer to the rest of your questions is either "I don't know, we don't know enough about the brain," or "that question doesn't have any meaning because we're not self-aware in that sense." The fact that we don't understand the brain completely doesn't mean we have to pretend it's controlled by magic. I also maintain that quantum mechanics means that the universe and/or the organisms cannot be completely deterministic, especially if quantum mechanics has some sort of a role in self-awareness. Chaos theory clearly demonstrates that completely insignificant changes in some cases - which can easily be provided by quantum randomness, it seems to me.


    Assuming the universe and assuming souls exists are very different things, it seems to me. If we assume the universe exists, we can then make predictions that can be tested, and use the results to gain greater understanding. What do we gain if we assume souls exist? We haven't explained anything, we've just artifically cordoned off an area from our understanding. I think that an aim of an assumption can be just as satisfactory as an explanation of an assumption.

    Now, that isn't completely true. I think that the presense of a spirit can be tested to some extent. You misinterpreted my last message somewhat: I was saying that IF the "soul" is something composed of matter and energy, then we should be able to create it and manipulate it. If is a true sould like the one you speak of that is not bound by universal physical laws, we should not be able to do this, and therefore there should be a distinction between entities that are susceptible to such manipulation and those that are not.

    Specifically, we've already been discussing AI. Since we'd have to directly create such a thing, if the soul is truly nonphysical, it would not be self-aware. We can't yet create a human; therefore it's special. This create/can't create distinction is the fact of life that sustains this idea of dualism. However, I'm pointing out that it's not going to remain a fact of life forever. Cloning is going to be the first step in erasing the distinction; but it won't be the last. Without doubt it would be hard to create human/animal hybrids (or various animal/animal hybrids if you want to set the bar for self-awareness slightly lower), or cyborgs, or molecularly assembled creatures, but I think there's little doubt that it's possible and within 100, 200, 500 years will have been done. If we do this stuff and there's no evidence of a barrier between self-aware and not self-aware I think that would disprove the concept of a spirit. The concept has lost its usefulness if we have no idea what to assign it to, because the boundaries of species and natural/artificial that restrict it today will have fallen.

  4. #34
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    I don't think assuming the existence of a spirit is an unreasonable assumption, and we do it for the same reason we assume the existence of a universe. We do it because we perceive ourselves to have a will. The properties we perceive of this will contradict the properties of matter/energy systems, so we conclude that part of the system lies outside of those domains.

    It's not a conclusion made without thought, or without knowledge of facts. But we cannot conceive of any way that consciousness and free will could be built from purely matter and energy; it exhibits traits that contradict the laws of physics that we know. Thus, the most logical assumption is that there is another player in the game -- some entity or structure beyond our current understanding of the universe, which is not a slave to those laws of physics which we know.

    Assuming a spirit is NOT irrational, nor illogical, nor is it a worthless assumption -- we infer its existence by observing phenomena which cannot be attributed to anything else we know of.

    We *do* know how the fundamental units of the brain work. We know exactly how neurotransmitters cause ligand-gated channels to open, causing post-synaptic potentials which sum, and if they reach threshold, they generate an action potential by opening of voltage-gated channels in the membrane. The brain itself is hardly much of a mystery. Thought is a mystery, but not the electrochemical adding machines of the neurons.

    Knowing how each individual unit works, it seems impossible that a brain built from such units could have the properties we see. It is like saying that a building made of pure gold could exhibit a tensile strength greate than structural steel. Based on what we know about the properties of the material used to construct the object, we know what properties the whole object could/could not have.

    Knowing how the units which make up the brain work, the two issues still remain:

    1) It seems impossible for self-awareness from a collection of these adding machines, each of which acts independantly from the rest.

    2) We cannot help but believe that we have free will. We directly experience free will, and directly perceive ourselves making choices. A collection of neurons has no will.

    Because of 1) and 2), we see that the properties of thought which we directly perceive do not mesh with the model of the brain-as-origin-of-thought.

    The creation vs. noncreation is not a valid argument. Perhaps it is a property of the growth and development of a living being which infuses them with a spirit. Clones could very easily have such a spirit -- after all, outside of the fact they're genetically a copy of another person, they grow and develop exactly like any other fertilized egg. A clone isn't really created, it's grown, in the same way any human is grown. To "create" a human, you'd need to assemble one, fully grown, *without* allowing the human to use the natural developmental cycle in any way. And that's simply impossible, or will be for centuries. You'd have to take the component molecules and build every cell from scratch. If you grow a cell in the traditional sense, any properties that are a consequence of the manner of its creation wouldn't change from "normal" cells, because it would be made in the "normal" fashion.

    Also, this fails to address the one key issue -- how do you determine whether something ELSE has free will? I know that I have free will because I perceive it. How can I ever prove that YOU have free will? How can you prove that I have free will? It's simply impossible.
    Last edited by The V.; 11-10-2001 at 04:21 PM.

  5. #35
    Ethereal Raccoon Procyon's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that I perceive that I have a will. Do I really control what I'm doing? I don't think I really do. When I have to make a decision, it's shaped either by a complex evalution external factors that I don't actually perform or some sort of spur-of-the-moment arbitrary selection - I certainly don't sense any mystical stuff going on. Another important thing to consider is the enormous impact drugs can have on a person's mental state, including feelings of self-awareness. Why should drugs affect something that does not follow the physical laws of our universe?

    And again, the reason why people assume the existence of a spirit is not the same as the reason they assume the existence of the universe. It's more than 'perception' - it's also that the assumption of the existence of reality is productive. Assuming the existence of a soul is NOT productive because it automatically claims we can't understand human behavior. Maybe we can't explain human behavior at every level, but until we have more evidence I feel it is foolhardy to make that claim. The fact that nothing else "we know of" appears to exhibit consciousness is not sufficient.

    I also repeat that you are making way too many assumptions in extending the properties of the neuron to the properties of the brain. A neuron is NOT a mini-brain with all the functionality of the full unit. A transistor can't run Windows '95; that hardly suggests that a computer can't either. Your gold/steel analogy doesn't make sense either. Perhaps you would claim, looking only at a small sample of graphite, that pure carbon could never be made into a transparent material several times harder than any other naturally occuring substance? Or that hydrogen and oxygen gas could never be made liquid at standard temperature and pressure?

    Most people who argue for the existence of a soul take the easy way out and say that it is generated at fertilization, which is why I referred to cloning. Obviously creating an individual at later stages becomes extremely difficult, but there is no reason to believe that it impossible - and with sufficient technological advancement we will probably be capable of trying it.

    If you don't think it's creation versus noncreation that defines self-awareness, why can't a sufficiently advanced computer be self-aware?

    A self-aware being should act different in some detectable way from a non-self-aware being, or the distinction between self-awareness and non-self-awareness is useless. I won't claim to know what that distinction would be, but if none were found after extremely intense scrutiny I think that would be sufficient to reject the idea of a nonphysical soul.

  6. #36
    Scourfish
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    NO! Down with AI! Don't let the robots enslave the human race!

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