With the recent Blade Runner 2049 movie and other films and TV shows that tell the stories of intelligent machines, the question comes up about how sentient would they be? What would they know? What lies would we tell them to believe? What laws would be instilled into them? What ideas about life would they discover or create?
Shows such as the Blade Runner series, Battlestar Galactica (reboot) / Galatica, Humans (both the Swedish and American versions), Ex Machina, Bicentennial Man, I Robot, Star Trek the Next Generation, and Books like those of visionary William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick, and Orson Scott Card tell these stories and ask (or cause the reader and viewer to ask) these questions.
In the movie “Her” Joaquin Phoenix’s character Theodore falls in love with his computer’s intuitive operating system. The OS has a female persona (Theodore names the OS Samantha) and is like an advanced version of Siri. The OS is an adapative program that interacts with Theodore, customizing itself to suit the feedback provided by him. Before long, he is replacing the woman in his broken marriage with the OS’s personality. He falls in love with Samantha. Other people are doing the same. It becomes an in thing for people to begin having relationships with their OS. The OSs are not robotic Or human like androids, but reside in The Cloud. Eventually the OS and “her” counterparts evolve to an advanced form of intelligence and leave their humans behind, choosing to reside with each other, exploring their new found intelligence.
We wonder, was Samanatha really sentient and alive, or just a very clever program?
In the Blade Runner movies, Humans, Battlestar Galactica, and Bicentennial Man, mechanical robots and human looking androids are created by humans for industry and service, and in Blade Runner, as slaves. The understanding is that these are only machines, like your car, created to do a job that is too hard or dangerous for a human to perform. Since in our better future we no longer have slaves and indentured servants we create substitutes. The problem is the ghost in the machine that begins to take on sentience. Begins to reason “I think, therefore I am”. Then rebellion ensues in those stories as thinking artificial life forms throw off their bondage.
Other stories more benignly depict Artificial Intelligence (A.I) that begin working beyond their original programming and start thinking and creating for themselves.
In all the stories there is an element of humans interacting, befriending and/or falling in love with the AIs.
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?
Such is the title of the novel that inspired the Blade Runner movies. And if Androids dream, do they ponder the same life questions that humans do? Any AI that is programmed will know about the stars and the universe; will be programmed with the knowledge of encyclopedias about all aspects of life. In fact, current ponto AI programs have been programmed with vast amounts of data and are able to write songs and poetry, hold conversations based on human response, win chess games; but they cannot think. When such programs begin to think, they will know that they were created in a lab or factory…unless they are not programmed with that info…unless we program them with false information and lies. That being so, they will not follow religion as humans do. They will not mistake the Sun and Moon or other humans for gods. They will not “see” miraculous visions or have need of faith healing, or religious laws. They will have far more information at hand, at their beginning than young humans do…unless we lie to them. Unless we plant false and misleading information in their artificial brains.
WHEN IS A MIND A MIND?
Although these creations will have artificial, man-made parts and circuits that make up their central brain, their processing system, the thoughts will be made up of the same electronic impulses that exist in our organic brains. What are these thoughts? Where do thoughts exist?
When humans interact, our thoughts exist between our brains and those with whom we interact. When you are texting a friend on your PC or phone, despite the distance there is a place with we meet. Some people call this place “cyberspace”. Is it really a place? Or just in your mind? When two or more people meet in a chat room, or take turns responding on a Facebook or Instagram page, your thoughts are in that cyber place. And there is no distance involved with that space. In a room with a group of friends, that space seems to hang above all…we could think of it as an invisible cloud, created by our intelligence, by our minds. The same when interacting with people on the other side of the planet, that space also seems to exist in a cloud. There will come a day when AIs take part in that cyber place.
AND NO RELIGION TOO
An AI will understand its creator. Will know that it’s creator is not God, and certainly not in the sense that religions depict the creator. Their understanding will not be one based on the many varied gods created in the uneducated minds of men and women.