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26827Re: [evol-psych] Will fact match fiction as scientists start work on thinking robot?

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  • Steven D'Aprano
    Aug 31, 2003
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      On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 05:30 pm, Ian Pitchford wrote:
      > Lähettäjä: Timo Järvilehto [mailto: timo.jarvilehto@... ]
      > Lähetetty: 26. elokuuta 2003 10:00
      > Vastaanottaja: evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com
      > Aihe: Re: [evol-psych] Will fact match fiction as scientists start
      > work on thinking robot?
      [snip]
      > "To sum up, the research on robotics and artificial intelligence is
      > on a wrong path when trying to develop conscious machines, similarly
      > as the modern brain research is faced with an impossible task when
      > trying to find special areas for consciousness in the brain. This
      > doesn't mean denial of the importance of the brain or the nervous
      > system when consciousness is studied, or that machines could not
      > simulate conscious acts. However, locating consciousness in the brain
      > or in the machine leads to questions which cannot be answered,
      > because for consciousness to exist, we need much more than the brain
      > or the machine alone.
      >
      > Thus, a machine or a brain, as such, may never have consciousness of
      > their own. Robots cannot exist as autonomous beings, because their
      > existence as robots is bound to the human culture.

      Is this not equally true of human beings? Do not the children raised by
      wolves or otherwise in total isolation from other human beings fail to
      develop as functioning human beings?

      If you get right down to it, no human being is a fully autonomous being.
      We are all utterly helpless, unable to even run away from a threat, for
      months, and reliant on other human beings for years afterwards.


      > They are neither
      > "interested" in co-operation or in communication, as little as spades
      > are interested in digging holes or computers in the content of their
      > calculations; they do this only when they are programmed and used by
      > the human beings.

      Yes, but this pre-supposes that robots could never be created that are
      "interested" in co-operation. How do you know that this is the case?


      > Furthermore, there are also deep ethical issues related to such
      > endeavors. If we start to humanize machines then it easily follows
      > that we start to mechanize human beings.

      I'm sorry, but this does not follow at all. In fact, this sounds awfully
      like the argument against animal rights that if we humanize animals, we
      will only end up treating humans worse; or of the Fundamentalist
      Creationist argument that if we teach our children we are animals, they
      will go on to act like animals. Presumably they fear that they will
      roll around in the mud like elephants rather than bath.

      Your argument supposes that people have a limited quantity of humanity
      to apply to other beings, and if we waste it on machines, then there
      will be less available to apply to other Homo sapiens. I see no
      evidence of this.

      Over historical periods, we human beings have gone from more or less
      denying the humanity of anyone from another tribe, to conceiving of the
      notion that even machines and aliens from other worlds might be human.
      Far from having a limited quantity of humanity to apply, it seems that
      the further we spread our notion of humanity, the more we have to
      spread further still.

      > Here genetic engineering and
      > development of robotics seem to be just two sides of the same coin.
      > Already now there are strong efforts towards genetic manipulation of
      > babies, which reflect the attitude that a baby is just a doll which
      > serves the needs and satisfaction of its parents,

      This sounds pretty much standard human behaviour to me, at least for a
      large portion of the human species. I know many adults whose parents
      expect them to serve their own needs and satisfactions, and none of
      them were genetically manipulated.

      [snip]
      > Human
      > consciousness is based on long developmental history and co-operation
      > with the other human beings. Therefore, it is impossible to create
      > consciousness artificially.

      This supposes that there is one and only one way of creating
      consciousness, namely the specific way that consciousness in human
      beings develops.

      The flaw in the reasoning can be easily seen if we apply the same logic
      to a slightly different situation:

      "Human chess-playing is based on long developmental history and
      co-operation with the other human beings. Therefore, it is impossible
      to create chess-playing artificially."


      --
      Steven D'Aprano
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