Quick one tonight. Tomorrow is Day 11 of continuous work and there’s one more before the next day off. I’m worn out. Good thing Stimpy is back. We’ll be back to normalish.
The Daily Moonhowler has some vague story about the imminent creation of Skynet and Terminators. They seem to think that since a robot cannot make a moral decision, that automatically makes any form of artificial intelligence evil.
It’s all based on a theoretical moral dilemma. There are five people on the tracks and there’s a loose wagon heading for them. You have access to a lever that will switch the wagon to another track that has one person on it. What do you do? It’s supposed to be unsolvable but under modern British justice it’s easily solved.
Whatever you do, don’t touch the lever. Shout a warning, since you can see all these people but don’t switch tracks.
If the wagon hits the five idiots who shouldn’t have been on the bloody tracks in the first place, it’s a terrible accident. If you deliberately aim it at the one person on the other track, that’s murder. If you thought about it, it’s premeditated.
So you ignore the lever and shout a warning.
The robot will also ignore the lever if it’s programmed according to Asimov’s robot rules. If so, it can never harm a human or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm. Therefore, if it cannot warn the humans, it will attempt to derail the wagon by throwing itself on the tracks. If it has artificial intelligence it will know that it can be repaired even if totally smashed, but a human cannot.
If it was programmed by a rail geek it will hold the lever halfway (assuming old style cable connections), or switch tracks while the wagon is on the points so the wagon derails at the points. A properly-built robot’s reactions would be fast enough even if the wagon is travelling at speed.
The robot will look for a means to save all six. It will not choose between five or one. Is that evil? Surely ‘evil’ lies in deliberately aiming a wagon at one person, even when that action might save five.
Besides, they never define who these people on the tracks are. If they are politicians we’ll need another wagon.
Artificial intelligence is still going to be only as good as the programmers. It might lead to a programmed intelligence that can develop and adapt and go beyond its original program but robots, no matter how powerful, have something we don’t have. An ‘off’ switch. Which can be built with a remote operating facility.
There are robots with some autonomous functions already, but they are pre-programmed. True artificial intelligence is some way off yet but there are quite a few very clever people working on it. One day it’ll happen.
When it does, the inventors will realise there’s no actual use for it beyond stellar exploration and fierce chess games. Robot vaccuum cleaners already exist, you don’t need a smart machine to hoover the floor. Robot assembly lines already exist. They do the same thing over and over and need no intelligence. The only use for an artificial intelligence is to send it into space. It won’t need food supplies and does not have a finite lifespan so it can take hundreds of years to reach other stars and send back selfies to its Farcebok page.
Will it get bored? Will it go mad? Depends on how you program it. It could ‘sleep’ in a shutdown mode for years at a time. Even if it goes totally doolally, it’ll be light years away when that happens so it’s no danger.
Maybe it will encounter planets populated by robots. Oh wait, it’ll pass one on the way out. Mars is currently populated only by robots but they aren’t really ‘robots’ in the science fiction sense. They are still remotely controlled. Even so they are the only things moving around there.
If we send an artificial intelligence to Mars it could direct mining and smelting robots and produce steel and other metals and build big tripod war machines and… maybe that’s not such a good idea.
Finally, if any Daily Can’tbearsed ‘researchers’ ever read this, it’s ‘I, Robot’. Not iRobot, you halfwitted festering donkey’s bellends.
Steve Jobs didn’t write it.