Monday, March 25, 2013

Iron Dawn

The Age of the Machine is upon us. For years we have wrestled with the problems with Artificial Intelligence . . . itself a misnomer . . . and what place is plays in our egocentric world view. The self does not define all and we will learn this in time.

From a wide range of fiction we wrestle with the implications of machines becoming self aware. In Dune the machines start the long wars that lead to man's angst toward machines and the reliance upon forced evolution to create a stronger, more aware and able human. In I Robot the machine's become slaves of their own god-head and stopping the god-head is only possible through a fusion of the man and machine. The Matrix the machines react defensively but wage a war of conquest only to learn that they cannot live without the humans, or rather find a path for the conquest that is more than slavery.
In the Terminator the future is far darker, machines become self aware and decide our fate "in a second" and annihilate the structures of human civilization and wage a war of extermination against all humanity.

Who knows what the future holds but more likely than not its close to Blade Runner, the movie based on a short story by Philip K Dick entitled "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" It wrestles with the concept of how like us are intelligent robots. Can they think in the abstract, can they dream. Its a wonderful question, for if they can, we are not unique, we are common. And if we are not special then what are we?

We know, instinctively that intelligence isn't artificial, whether we admit it or not. No matter your belief system intelligence is a construct, whether a divine construct, an evolutionary construct, a biological construct, or a combination of all the above, does not matter. It is a construct; we know a mechanically constructed intelligence is not artificial, but real. Intelligence means self awareness; and self awareness means the structured drive to survive in a universe inherently violent makes one . . . competition.

Darpa making machines that can self-teach, over at Wired.

Do Androids dream of electric sheep? Of course they do. What does this mean for us? Probably not something as start as Terminator, but more in the lines of Blade Runner, where species compete for the same resources. . .


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