A spooky concept concerning where our technological advances might lead us.

Ghost in the Machine, a Reality We Might Face

Technology is usually talked about in a positive light. How will this new tech be more efficient? How will this new tech be better for the environment? How will this new tech revolutionize the industry? Certainly new technology offers great benefits to our society.

But let’s talk about something that has low-key controversy in our generation: AI (artificial intelligence). Now, I say that it’s low-key controversial because AI obviously isn’t very prominent in our society.

It exists as a vision in the back of our mind that we will slowly inch towards realizing. The reason it’s controversial is greatly due to its portrayal in cinema and television. Some classics include the Terminator movies, I,Robot, The Matrix trilogy, etc. All these movies (and more) depict the creation of AI, in the not so distant future, as something that gets developed by humans and ultimately turns on us upon self-awareness.

Now, why is this such a popular take on AI in our society? Well you can say that it all comes back to the Creator’s Dilemma. The Creator’s Dilemma is when someone wants to create something in hopes that it will be beneficial, but realizes that their creation may very well be harmful (in a variety of different ways).

A classic example of this is Frankenstein. The story goes that Dr. Victor Frankenstein was eager to use his knowledge of medical science to reanimate a makeshift corpse. He did this in attempt to overcome death in hopes that his work could help prevent premature death all over the world.

Unfortunately, he accomplished his goal and created a human from spare limbs and organs and brought it to life. Upon his success he realized that his creation, while signifying a tremendous scientific breakthrough, was a monstrosity and posed a great threat to the human race.

This brings us to modern-day engineers and people of science who might opt to pursue the possibility of AI. They face the Creator’s Dilemma because while AI can present a great deal of benefits to society, the thought of self-awareness is still very much present. It’s always going to be there especially since our technology is developing every day and we are steadily approaching the creation of true AI. The question is will the Creator’s Dilemma effectively stop us from doing this?

Of course, there are no real life examples of AI self-awareness. Or are there? Recently people have heard of Facebook experimenting with AI. More accurately, perhaps, would be to say the Facebook was running an algorithm with chatbots that generates language.

The story goes that the algorithm veered off of it’s objective and started to create it’s own “language” that could not be recognizable as human. Fortunately for us, this was no where close to being an AI singularity. Although, this shows that the creation of languages, through machine learning, is indeed possible.

Regardless, we have achieved the accomplishment of imitating AI. Indeed, this is present in the creation of Cozmo, the supposedly AI robot. Cozmo uses a series of facial recognition technologies to warm up to the people around him. His eyes reflect the mood he’s in based upon how you interact with him and treat him.

This isn’t exactly AI because Cozmo’s action are a direct response to his surrounding. That’s how he’s programmed. Cozmo thinks according to what he’s taught. In other terms, he could be seen as the perfect child, but this in fact disqualifies him in the realm of AI.

We all know that no child is perfect because they can’t possibly act in accordance to what they are taught. Not fully, in any case. This is because humans are independent creatures that think for their own and can disregard the things they are taught if they choose to. AI would imply a singularity that could think independently and disregard the the things that it is taught. So, Cozmo imitates AI, but surely doesn’t step into the realm of true AI.

Now, after discussing this it is obvious to us that AI is not exactly part of our lives currently. But, it is also obvious to us that AI is not so far away from being achieved that the thought of it doesn’t affect our attitudes today. We have progressed so far as a species, when it comes to technology, that we have started to achieve things that would be perceived as impossible just a few years before we do it.

This scares me, because true AI was thought to be impossible not too long ago. But, you and I know that with the exponential curve of innovation that we’re on, the idea of AI doesn’t seem impossible at all. It could certainly be true, that we as a species, might face the Creator’s Dilemma in the next several years.