Kathleen Richardson, Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robotics and AI, De Montfort University Leicester will deliver the fifth lecture in the series on the 9th November with a talk entitled ‘Turning Persons into Property and Property into Persons’.
Kathleen Richardson is the Director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots and Senior Research Fellow in Ethics of Robotics and part of the Europe-wide DREAM project (Development of Robot-Enhance Therapy for Children with AutisM).
Kathleen is author of An Anthropology of Robots and AI: Annihilation Anxiety and Machines. She is now working on her second manuscript The Robot Intermediary? An Anthropology of Attachment and Robots for Children with Autism.
CLICK ABOVE to listen to discussion with Keelin Shanley on the dangers of killer robots with A.I. on Today with Sean O’Rourke (broadcast 5th August 2015)
Scientists are worried about how mankind will control robots with advanced built in artificial intelligence (Credit: Warner Bros)
Huge advances in in robotics and artificial intelligence mean that intelligent ‘killer robots’ could be ‘living’ among us in just a few years, and scientists and experts in the field are worried.
Artificial intelligence is the name given to how scientists try and replicate human intelligence in a computer. At its most basic it is software based on mathematics.
The scientific ‘father’ of A.I., as it is called, is Alan Turing, the brilliant English mathematician and code-breaker whose life was portrayed in The Imitation Game last year which many listeners will have seen.
We can, in fact, lay claim to Turing for Ireland, as he was half Irish. His mother, Ethel Sara Stoney, was Irish, attended Alexandra College in Milltown Dublin, and was part of a famous Anglo-Irish scientific family.
Ethel’s relations included George Stoney, the scientist who invented the term electron, and after whom a street in Dublin’s Dundrum is named; as well as Edith Stoney, regarded as the first woman medical physicist.
Turing’s idea was that a machine, using a mathematical alphabet which consisted of just two numbers, 0 and 1 could solve any problem.
This machine was the Turing Universal machine, and Turing came up with the idea, as far back as 1936, when he was just 24-years old.
At some point in the not-too distant future, machines will surpass humans in general intelligence. At that point machines will replace humans as the dominant ‘life form’ on Earth. Life here will have entered its post-biological phase. We’ll be extinct.
Sufficiently, intelligent machines could improve themselves, to reach an even higher level of intelligence, without the need for humans.
The fate of humans, whether they continued to exist or not, would, be dependent on the whim of the machine super intelligence.
Our relationship to the super intelligence would be like the relationship gorillas, for example, have with humans today. We’d be endangered, or doomed.
Thinkers like Bostrom, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, talk about a moment called a ‘technological singularity’ when A.I. becomes truly super intelligent.
This is the moment when a computer or a robot with A.I. becomes capable of designing better, more intelligent versions of itself.
Rapid repetitions of this would result in an intelligence explosion, and very quickly, a super intelligence would emerge, way beyond human intelligence.
It would be like putting evolution into super-fast forward, and our own slow biological evolution would be unable to compete with this.
This super intelligence might be able to solve problems, and answer questions which have proved beyond the capabilities of human beings to solve.
Scientists argue as to when this moment might arrive, Kurzweil, predicts it will be with us by 2045, some have argued it will be with us as early as 2030.
No-one is agreed on how best to deal with unregulated ‘autonomic weapons’ or with the prospect of hostile super intelligent machines.
The aforementioned Elon Musk, the SpaceX entrepreneur, has put $10 million of his money into projects aimed at keeping A.I. ‘under control’ and ‘beneficial’.
We would try and build in elements that would prevent A.I. machines from turning on humans, like with the protective Terminator in the Hollywood film.
We might do well to take on board ‘The Three Laws of Robotics’ devised by brilliant science fiction author Isaac Asimov (author of I, Robot) back in 1942.
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Or perhaps our future is to become cyborgs, to adopt and incorporate this immense A.I. intelligence as part of our own existence.
We could decide to ditch our biology, and to become a race of super intelligent, immortal machines.
Our ‘primitive’ fragile, biological beginnings may, in time become forgotten.
Can we defeat death? A growing number of scientists and philosophers believe we can. But, do we want to live forever? And should we? [Credit: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health]
Many scientists believe that children born today, in the western world at least, will live to an average of 100 years. What happens after that is uncertain, but many influential thinkers believe it will be ultimately possible for mankind to defeat death – to become immortal.
The questions we pose in this episode of Life Matters (episode 10) is: Do we want to live forever? and if we did would it be the right thing to do?
An evolutionary biologist at TCD, Andrew gave us examples of animals that live very long lives, which are hard to kill, as well as the routine growing of ‘immortal’ cell lines by scientists to study cancer. He ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if science found a way if not in his own lifetime, in the lifetime of his children, for people to become immortal.
Transhumanist, who wants to live for several centuries. He knows the value of life, having survived many near death experiences on a number of exploring adventures around the world. He has been nominated as the Presidential Candidate for Transhumanist Party of the US in the 2016 US Election. The goal of his party is to conquer death. and he and his colleagues believe that ageing can be stopped and reversed by science and technology.
Dr Messerly is an author, philosopher and transhumanist who has written extensively on God and religion. He believes that technology will make it possible for humans to defeat death – the greatest evil. He would like to live forever, to do the many things that there is no time to do over a normal human life. There may be some people that don’t want to live forever, he says, and for those people, suicide should be permissible if they want to opt out.
An author, and former British diplomat, he wrote the award-winning book ‘Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilization’. He believes that humans tell themselves 4 types of stories to cope with the idea of death and to provide an illusion that they will somehow live forever. These stories are common across all cultures and religions. He believes that these stories are all appealing, but false, so every moment of life on Earth is precious.
A Canadian philosopher that believes that it is ethically justifiable to enable people to live very long lives, perhaps up to the maximum possible, around 120 or 140. It is important, Professor Overall states, that people who have often lived very hard lives, are permitted to do some of the things that they have not been able to do at the end of their lives. She rejects the idea there is ‘duty to die’ at a certain age. This is sexist, she says because women live longer, and so will suffer more from such a duty, and ageist, because it assumes that elderly people are a ‘burden’ on society.
An American philosopher and the leading proponent of the idea that people have an ethical ‘duty to die’ once they reach a certain age. Prof Ludwig believes that it is wrong for people to become a burden on the younger generation and consume society’s resources long past the point where they can look after themselves or contribute to society. He believes that people living longer, perhaps indefinitely long lives, would create unsustainable pressures on society.