THE IMPACT OF INTELLIGENT TOOLS ON HUMAN LIFE AND THE WORLD

http://ghandchi.com/99-interspecies.htm

 

Persian Version

http://www.ghandchi.com/293-abzAreHooshmand-plus.htm

 

 

Hello Everyone,

 

There was a lot of interest in the field of Artificial Intelligence in early 80's. Marvin Minsky at the time, in his book "Society of Mind," was talking about the coming of a new species superseding the human species.  The great expectations of 80's, were followed by the skepticism of 90's, where the limitations of capabilities of our current computers were emphasized.

A few weeks ago the science fiction movie AI was released, and this movie has renewed the interest in the topic. I wrote the following commentary on that movie a couple of weeks ago:

I just saw a review of the movie "AI" on this Iranian TV program.  The reviewer was just insulting Spielberg, for a movie, which the reviewer himself did not have a clue to understand.  Not that I fully agree with everything in the movie.  I think in some parts, mostly the parts inherited from Kubrick, it was too negative.  Kubrick was the first producer of the movie who passed away and the movie went to Spielberg.  I think the strength of the negative savagery of some humans in their jealousy of androids was because the producer did not see much advancement of human beings by that time, which is not warranted.  The humans (orga's) were almost the same as what they are now, whereas at the time, the androids (mecha's) were highly advanced.  I mean even right now we are seeing mechanical parts in humans, such as the artificial heart (which I hope can eradicate the savage practices of getting implants from prisoners, and other victims, that we hear so many reports of).  So humans even now are not all orga's (organic).  I also see another shortcoming that everything humans used, after thousands of years, seemed almost the same: books, etc.  But maybe, as Kurzweil notes, this was not the focus of the movie.  Overall, I think the movie was a very thought-provoking interesting movie.  I also found the following interview with Kurzweil about this movie, to be very illuminating.  Ray Kurzweil is one of the foremost scientists in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and his works in many areas of computer science, such as computer music and OCR, are even known in popular circles.  Here is his interview with the Wired magazine:

http://a1966.g.akamai.net/7/1966/492/version0001/www.wired.com/news/audio/interviews/2001/07/RayKurzweil_070501.mp3

http://www.wired.com/news/radio/0,1665,44986,00.html


Let me note that although the hype of early 80's died soon, but the real interest in the topic of Artificial Intelligence has been very lively and continuing. In fact the following bibliography includes a good list of many works that in one way or the other, have dealt with this epochal event and the related topics:

http://iranscope.ghandchi.com/Books/Interesting-Bibliography.htm

My own paper, which is mentioned in the above bibliography, was published in Fall 1985, in AI Journal, and was entitled "Artificial Intelligence: The Cornerstone of New Civilizations", and the Persian/Farsi and English versions of it can be found at the following URL:

http://www.ghandchi.com/03-Tools

I think basically the main theme of my paper about intelligent tools (the narrow sense of intelligence, meaning tools with inference capability), and that the production of intelligent tools would have a glacial impact on human life and the world, has been more confirmed in the last 15 year, and actually the growth of Internet is now expediting this glacial change, and Internet2 will even do more in this respect.

Let me also note that there are and there will be ups and downs in this development and the current economic crisis that the world is experiencing, particularly in the high tech sectors, is part of this development, as the displacement and replacement of various sectors of the old and new economy is inevitable, but these ebb and flow, will not mean that this glacial change is reversible.  I would repeat what I wrote in the conclusion of my paper 15 years ago that:

http://www.ghandchi.com/03-Tools/03E-Intelligent_Tools.htm

"In this light, I welcome the coming of the new civilization and look forward to a better future following upon the heels of the contemporary upheaval. Pessimistic views about our future arise from viewing our own evolution to be static, while intelligent tools progress. The emergence of artificial intelligence has made it feasible for human beings to be intellectually challenged by the immense tasks of exhausting the intelligent characteristics of some artifacts- a historical first. Together with improvements in genetic engineering and telecommunications, the production process will change so rapidly in this space-age society that we can barely imagine even its most general lines. But whatever shape the new social formations may take, some possible social effects of these intelligent tools may include:

" -- A broadened scope of our intelligence: Our common sense should become much more developed and we should expect many new discoveries, inventions, and even a new understanding of ourselves.  " -- A freeing of the majority of human beinggs from living as tools and means of production: A greater percentage of people should be able to do what they like rather than being forced to do something they dislike merely to secure their basic needs.

" -- A tremendous multiplication of the wealth of humankind: The opening of new frontiers before us, in space or on Earth, will certainly follow the above advancements.

" At first glance, molding the new production processes, e.g., building "factories and offices of the future," or "homes of the future," may appear to be the key endeavor for shaping the future. Nonetheless, the real *challenge* before future-minded individuals is the improvement and introduction of appropriate social relations if the fruits of these technological advancements are to be realized. The role of science will be enhanced both due to the new technical needs of sophisticated, knowledge-intensive production processes and due to the new social needs of the related human interaction. Hence, we can expect an increased sophistication of essential human pursuits; the central activity of most individuals will likely be related to the progress of social relations and the enhancement of knowledge. We may even find personal income based on a synthesis of one's intentions and needs.

" The distribution of wealth and power in this new civilization will remain a social issue rather than a technical matter. Thus, whether everyone and every country will be able to avail themselves of these intelligent tools and accompanying benefits depends on future social institutions. These achievements may even add to the misery of many individuals for some time. However, I am optimistic about the future. I think that with the disappearance of the technological basis for treating any part of humankind as tools, humans will, at least, be able to spend more effort on resolving social issues and on molding new social institutions. These new social institutions must address and alleviate the menace of poverty, tyranny, war, and ecological deterioration. Whether the new civilization will evolve peacefully and uniformly world-wide is still an open question."

Finally regarding more advanced species, this is what I had written in my aforementioned paper:

 

“Finally, it is appropriate to mention that in this treatise, I have examined robots only as tools. I know, as many authors have pointed out, there is a *logical* possibility that these robots could turn into a new species surpassing human's current intelligence (yet I think by then humans will also have moved far more ahead and may still be ahead of them). There are numerous possibilities that more advanced species may reside on Earth some day (e.g., extraterrestrials are still a good possibility), and their origins could be in anything from genetic engineering and space travel to intelligent robot production and human evolution. Perhaps we will share mostly biological needs with animals and primarily social needs with other intelligences. This may help eliminate some of our *anthropocentric* views of the world which have been a part of our world outlook since the fall of early Greek civilization. However, these issues fall beyond the scope of this review as I have focused solely on the technological basis of the subjugation of human by human.”

 

I should note that the issue of trans-human species introduces a new variable, beside the *intra*species social relations of all the past human societies. This area, in the past, has been addressed by science fiction authors, until the advent of technologies like AI, Genetics, and Cloning, that are making such *inter*species relations a real possibility, in our life-time, and their impact on human society is no longer just a science fiction theme of very distant future.  I admire Kurzweil’s work "Spiritual Machines: The Merging Of Man and Machine", where his discussions are bold attempts to understand these new developments.  I think Ray Kurzweil's book "Spiritual Machines" is a very good account of what we have ahead of us. Here is a good summary of his book by Kurzweil himself:

http://iranscope.ghandchi.com/Anthology/Kurzweil-SM.htm

 

Following these changes, it would be interesting to revisit the economic theory.  A while back, I wrote a paper about the issue of value in the post-industrial knowledge_based economies and had an interesting feedback from Daniel Bell about it, but have not worked on this topic since.  Here is my paper which may be of interest to the folks doing research on this topic:

http://www.ghandchi.com/28-Higher_Product_Value.htm

Best Regards,

 

Sam Ghandchi, Publisher

IRANSCOPE

http://www.IRANSCOPE.com

July 21, 2001

 

P.S. On a related topic, please see my lecture in Persian entitled “Philosophy of Science in 20th Century”:

 

http://www.ghandchi.com/97-falsafehElm.pdf

 

P.P.S. Feb 18, 2002- The new Luddites are scaring people of the new achievements.  They basically do not even help humanity with the issues they seem to be worried about and they just may delay the progress a little bit.   I believe as we get closer and closer to the real production of sentient beings, we should go back and read the old 1817 classic work called "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelly. Unfortunately the way that book has been popularized in popular movies is completely distorted, and is not what one would learn from the book itself. I highly recommend reading the book. The movies try to show the message of the book as if the meddling in nature's work and "acting" God is bad and try to scare one of doing that.  Whereas the book tries to show the dangers and what one has to *predict* and compensate for, when making such an attempt, albeit *acting God*.  At least this is my understanding of the book.  And regardless of one's understanding of Mary Shelly's book, I think the book gives one a good understanding of the feelings of the new sentient beings and the kind of things one should watch for when developing these new artifacts.  Among the new books of our times in the same vein, I would recommend Pamela McCorduck's "Machines Who Think". But as I noted nothing can replace Mary Shelly's great classic. A real work of literature where one can really feel the feelings of the new creatures and their tormenting at their creators for not having thought of the agony they are going thru.

 

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