You are a human.
At least- anything that can currently read this blog and can understand when I use the term “YOU” as a defining function of the reader existing would only be a human.
Computers can capture what I am writing. They can perform limited word groupings and analysis. They could try to associate meanings by taking words and correlating them with other pre-loaded words- but they do not actually READ.
Computers, are not literate.
So, back to my point. You are a human.
Your ancestors were human.
Well.. to an extent.
Upwards of 97% of scientists agree now that humans evolved from simpler animals throughout pre-history back to early shrew-like mammals and even further back and back to simple multi-celled flora. The odd 3% refuse on a basis of religion. Whether or not evolution fits with a person’s belief of a higher being or not is irrelevant. Reality doesn’t care much for how a person feels about a situation, much like it ignored the heliocentric model of the Roman Catholic church, and the Greek theories on sacrificing to Poseidon would ensure safe travels over sea. Your personal feelings on how the cosmos should work is meaningless when describing how they actually do work.
Just about here, you are wondering… Wait a minute, I thought I was going to read about robots and shit.
Well let me get to that.
When science fiction authors create a story about real Artificial Intelligence- it is almost always one of two things.
1. They build a super machine with so much memory and capacity and such an enormous database- that is just.. ends up becoming ‘aware’.
2. They build a machine, flip a switch and voila there is this walking talking machine that knows how to walk/see/hear/talk, is basically invincible to a baseball bat to the chest and is invariably smarter than a human… bbuuuttt always has a flaw like not loving or lack of intuition or something.
Now, let me start by criticizing those methods.
The first idea is just playing to an audience which thrives on over the top scenarios and something more in line with fantasy than science fiction- and it seriously does not deserve any further critique when looked at scientifically because they were not actually intended to be scientific (and thus not within the realm of the real, more in the realm of the feel).
The second method of developing Artificial Intelligence is, although widely accepted and never questioned, flawed at every angle. I would like to ask you to think of this for a moment.
When you sit in a room and listen to the person in front of you talk, there is actually a complex process going on through your ears and brains which you are not aware of. You focus. You are able to listen to that person, and ignore the other people in the room talking, ignore the sounds of your paper shuffling and the footsteps of the people walking, and disregard the ever present air conditioner spewing out noise. While there, you can switch your focus.. you can ‘listen’ to another conversation and ignore the person in front of you. You can pay attention to the paper. You do this…easily.
At birth- you were incapable of this.
You have to learn how to HEAR. Not to detect sound… you could always do that. But to filter signal to noise, to focus, to not actually listen to everything at the same time.
This takes from when you begin to hear, while still in the womb, until many months in to infancy.
And hearing isn’t the only sense or ability like this. At birth, all human sight is extremely blurry and really only notices differences in the intensity of light and motion (which is the interruption of light signatures when regarded to sight).
These are examples of things learned through simple usage. A baby, or kitten, a pony.. whatever animal you consider- they are at birth given these capabilities which they just develop over time because in their genetic code it states that seeing is this and hearing is that.
So, we have abilities learned through repetitive usage, and we have abilities learned through imitation. A toddler toddles because for the previous few months they see older humans walking and say “Holy cow man, that’s way better than the way I shuffle around on the ground, I need to try that.” Parents or adult figures have a huge role in this. We stand up the child, we put them in bouncers, we encourage their development. If a baby is never introduced to the concept of standing, never sees others do it, and never gets help doing it- they will never stand up and walk.
Walking is a developed skill we take for granted, but it took us each near a year to really figure out and get good enough at to not continually bust our collective asses.
Now- there are a number of more things like these three examples which humans, or any other advanced life form do or know which needs to be developed. It takes time. No animal is born as an adult.
And that is my main point. If there is going to be a true Synthetic Intelligence. True Artificial Intelligence. A real ‘being’ made of computer hardware and programing- it would need a development phase. Simply turning on and being fully aware, hearing, seeing, knowing, understanding- it wouldn’t know what to think of it all, it would be too much. Children spend years learning their first native language because there’s so much that must be experienced and wouldn’t make any sense at all without experience.
Also- just as you developed from an earlier species- the scientists in a lab would need to start small. Why does artificial ‘life’ necessitate a human equivalent? That is actually the wrong place to start. The whole thing should begin with a small, able to fit in your hand sized creation. From there, tweak it, move on and on.
Just as a human is coded with their DNA and RNA to provide the basis for everything about them- a computer has code.
I understand it’s not as simple as “well, start me up one of them human programs in a PC Tower”- but the framework is the same. General academic consensus now holds that our thoughts and mind are simply how our brain interprets the input coming in from our senses, and then works with that data to plan the future or entertain us in the mean time.
Give a properly programmed computer sensory input and their processors theoretically then could do that as well. The key is the programming, and development time.
Humans are giant computers made out of different materials.
There is a shell, with guts and programming. The key is getting the right guts, and the right programing.
In my next article, I will look at an advancement in related technology to my theory and comment accordingly.
I’d like to point out that there have been a very limited few in Science Fiction who have not taken the turn on awareness route for granted. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the character Data takes steps to ‘develop’ his daughter, but it was very limited- most likely due to time limitations on the television show. There have also been some who have gone a completely different route- I am simply speaking of the majority.