What makes us Human and the debate around the impact of Artificial Intelligence on human and social behaviour.
More often than not when someone in the past has mentioned A.I. my mind reverts back to the 'Terminator' movies or the old 'Twiki' the robot in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century a bit like the above. Even in these movies and tv shows the story of good versus bad was still apparent in non-human behaviour.
However that being said the way our world is changing and those movies we thought so far fetched are now becoming a very real reality, we are still way off from the 'Terminators' but not that far. I was sitting in lecture at Uni a couple of weeks ago and where we had the brilliant and funny Dr. Robert Fisher from Edinburgh University talking more about the progress and implications for society in general. Advising the House of Lords that it is important to have these discussions now rather than later regarding the pitfalls and regulations that need to be put in place. Whilst we are living in a 'push button' world with the latest gadgets and upgrades, have we really thought pass the novelty and what it means for how we communicate and behaviour with each other and society.
But what do we really know about A.I.? well during most of our day we are already unconsciously coming into contact and using with it from the very basic algorithms on social media to speaking to an automated phone service provider. The growing areas of Robotics and A.I. to reduce human error include Warfare, Robotics for Hospital operations and the hot debate of the moment 'Driverless Cars'.
So the question we may want to contemplate is if A.I. can do all of this then what is left for humans to do? Furthermore how we will earn money? to live. In just one small example l'll want to give you to show you the impact and this is just in one area remember Transport. With Driverless cars, lorries, tubes and trains and l'm sure buses won't be much behind. There will be no need to past your driving test so no driving instructors as well as not lorry, tube, train, bus, plane drivers or pilots and no taxi drivers. So what will all these people do instead?
So what separates us from our A.I. counterparts you may ask?
Well if we start with the question what makes us human we may get an idea. Firstly we are the only ones whom are 'conscious' in relation to most other animals and secondly we have 'emotions' and 'empathy'. Antonio Damasio (1999) talks about the importance of feeling and emotion in building consciousness. Coming full circle to the present and the question that most Scientific Engineers and Neuroscientists are asking is can they build A.I. to be conscious and if so is does that mark the end of the beginning or beginning of the end?
I have attached below an interesting read by Drew McDermott a Undergraduate at MIT and subsequently a now a tenured full Professor at Yale University ever since.