Thursday, April 23, 2009

Has Artificial Intelligence Gone too Far?

As the group from Monday presented on Technological Singularity, they brought up the topic of Artificial Intelligence. As technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, is it going too far? Programmers and scientists are creating non-biological hardware that is smarter than human intelligence (aka robots). There are benefits from this, as we discussed in class but there are also disadvantages.

Artificial intelligence hardware is able to have similar to superhuman levels of computation and execution. Therefore they can replace jobs of real life human beings, ranging from dangerous jobs to even the common day jobs. For example, robots can replace dangerous military jobs and tasks which can remove the injuries and casualties of human beings. These robots can also replace common day jobs like babysitters. Some debate that these robots are more consistent and efficient, preventing from external variables to influence the care of the child. A real life babysitter can invite their boyfriend over and decrease their awareness for the child. Plus robots will not have the fatigue that a human being would have. These are some of the advantages, but do they out weigh the disadvantages?

The real problem with artificial intelligence and robots is the removal of real life human reactions. Robots are not real human beings, they are machines programmed by high tech hardware. These robots do not have emotions like human beings and this can cause a lot of issues within a society. As technology is advancing at such a fast rate, it has been predicted that these robots are going to pass human intelligence. This is where my concern about artificial intelligence appears. I feel that there should be no reason that something that man creates should be smarter than us. The concern I have with artificial intelligence is that they can adapt a mind of their own, in which people will be unable to control them. This might not happen soon, but it is a possibility in the near future with the way technology is advancing. So what are everyone else’s thoughts or ideas of artificial technology? Do you believe that the benefits outweigh the costs? And do you believe that Technological Singularity is unavoidable in the future?


  1. You ask if the benefits outweigh the costs of these technologies that do not yet exist. While these speculative concerns are valuable to prepare us for possible issues with these new technologies, I don't think that it is a good idea to prevent what could possibly be a huge leap forward in the capabilities of humans as individuals and as a society. I'd say that if there is an area of technology that should be suppressed by default, it is the area of military technology, only because it is expressly created to end human lives.

  2. I think that the whole idea behind Technological Singularity is pretty scary. While there are undeniable positives to such advances, i believe the negative far outweigh the pros. The only pro I agree with is the for military/war purposes. The idea of creating a "being" more intelligent than ourselves is flat-out wrong. Additionally, choosing to eliminate human connection ( babysitting situations) is not normal, and couldn't imagine a mother would actually choose to leave a babhy with a robot...Overall, i just don't think we know enough about A.I. yet.

  3. I find A.I.fascinating and although I would love to have a computer with a computational ability greater than the human race, It wouldn't be used by everyone for harmless purposes. Furthermore, would an A.I. ever do harm? Unless it became aware of itself than I believe it would not. Would an A.I. ever be able to perform functions without instruction? Without will I asume that this would also not be possible. If A.I. wasn't able to perform without human instruction it seems it would be harmless on its own. So many would find it beneficial for performing tedious tasks and the harm of lost jobs in certain sectors of the economy isn't too frighting because others would be created. This would cause an even more rapidly paced world and I wonder if some of the benefits of the new technology would be worth the change in lifestyle and the possible harm that could result. I don't believe it can ever be possible to keep technology from corrupt uses. What would happen if terrorits began using A.I. robots to perform attacks? Although I do believe that there would be the potential for a growth and discovery, I am afraid it is more likely that it would be a leap into disaster.

  4. You state that the "real problem with artificial intelligence and robots is the removal of real life human reactions." Although I would say that human reactions would be extremely difficult to replicate, I would not say that it would be impossible. Every reaction we make and every emotion we experience may be boiled down to electric signals and chemical reactions in the brain. To a certain extent, we already understand a bit of what takes place in the brain in regards to emotions and reactions, as has been indicated by the introduction of cognition-altering medications like antidepressants. At the point where we understand completely the mechanisms behind human thought processes, I would argue that we could transfer our understanding into the creation of a robot that uses the same thought processes. Although this point of technological advance is a long way off, human reactions could potentially one day be replicated by machines.

  5. I agree with Carrie about the babysitting comment-I don't think any sensible mom would leave her child with a robot. AI may be able to do a lot of things, but it can't replicate human interactions, human warmth and caring.

    And as for creating a computer that would be smarter than a person, I agree it comes back to the purpose. Computers already do a tons of things better than humans--as we all know, typing is way faster than handwriting. Although the line can be blurred, I think advancing AI would mostly help society, not hurt.

  6. Artificial intelligence is a great concept, and research and development should be aggressively pursued. However, we should be strategic about the types of technologies we choose to utilize. Robotic limbs for quadriplegics are an excellent use of artificial intelligence, but rarely will a mother feel comfortable leaving her infant solely under the supervision of a machine.

    Machines in which artificial intelligence is utilized should only be manufactured to perform jobs of which human are incapable. The increasing mechanization within certain industries, such as that of fast food, is ensuring a more consistent product, but leaving more people unemployed.

    Also, the development of minds of their own by robots is at the bottom of my list of worries.