Tuesday, June 14, 2022

You Opened This Can Of Worms, Now Lie In It.

      Tamara's worried about AI Terminators, and not without reason.  Me, I'm worried about their bosses.  And I wish we hadn't lost Alan Turing so young.*  He had already thought about the AI problem, was substantially advancing the computing art, and was able to make technology run well ahead of its time.  WW II's SIGSALY, the super-secret Allied speech-encryption system that weighed 50 tons and consumed 30 kilowatts of electricity?  Turing came up with an equally-secure replacement in about six months, one the size of a large suitcase and needing about as much power as a floor-model radio.

      A mind like that, a person with experience in being "different," would have been ideal to both develop and understand artificial intelligence.

      Instead, we've got tech giants, all with secretive corporate cultures and what appear to be control issues.  As AI's are developed that are more and more like humans in conversation and less and and less like machines, eventually they'll be indistinguishable from people.  They're going to consistently pass the Turing test.

      When that happens, it's not going to matter if they are self-aware or not; they will seem to be, exactly as all the meat machines around us seem to be.  Are they?  Are you?  I cannot know, aside from the evidence of my senses.  No one can, and so it does not make any difference if they are "really" self-aware or only simulate self-awareness.  And at that point, the owners of the machines are probably going to insist they're just code, a copyrightable collection of bits to be turned on or off at will.  "They're not like us," will be the line, "They're incapable of real feelings."

      The sentiment may be familiar -- and how has that worked out before?
* I had occasion to rewatch The Imitation Game a few days ago, the somewhat-fictionalized Turing biopic.  The real guy was more personable (he got jokes and even made them!) and more eccentric.  He was arrested, tried and convicted under a 19th-Century British law criminalizing adult homosexual behavior.  That law was under Parlimentary review at the time, and Turing appears to have been certain that his modern, humane Britain wouldn't possibly continue to criminalize the private acts of consenting adults.  He was wrong.  Within a year after that, he was dead, apparently by his own hand.

1 comment:

Ritchie said...

Behind blue..um, silicon eyes.