Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

I, Robot

Unfortunately, if you’ve read this title and thought, “Wow, after 6 years, someone is finally going to do a decent critique of Will Smith’s I, Robot!” I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. Though I will put in my two pence and say I think that Will Smith is deservedly the biggest film star in the world.  I think ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’, ‘I am Legend’, and ‘Seven Pounds’ are three of the best emotionally provocative movies ever released.

I am actually going to talk about artificial intelligence. This is, ethically, a fascinating subject to look into. I’ve spent the last few days mulling this subject over in my head. Now this piece isn’t factual at all, I’m no expert in nano-technology or the development of robotics, but I’m just raising a few points which I find quite interesting to explore – please leave your thoughts on the subject, I’d be interested to hear.

The most powerful computer in the world (discounting George Bush Jr.) is undoubtedly the human brain – either singularly or as a collection. A computer can no doubt work out sums and probability at a much faster rate but, after all, they can only do this through the complex programming designed by humans.

I, Robot highlights the relationship of the character played by Will Smith (Del Spooner), and a robot (Sonny). This could well be something we may face in the future. Robots are being constantly developed to serve humans; such as the computer I’m using to write with now. Each of these computers are designed to respond in certain ways. I press the key ‘3’ and sure enough ‘3’ appears here. This is simple though. Robot design now has moved onto computer interfaces responding to speech and movement. In fact I’ve no doubt, before too long, there will be a robot designed which will be able to respond to humans as if you’re talking to a person themselves (though maybe not in appearance and movement) .

Now, surely the biggest moral question we must ask ourselves is: should the created become the creator? Effectively, we have the capability of creating life. To the created, we could be seen as Gods. After all, isn’t the human brain a computer itself? We respond to situations (though on a far more complex level, to date) exactly the same way. If someone jabs a pen in your knee, your natural reaction is to yelp in pain. If a self-learning computer interface is designed, then really we are designing something which could potentially be perceived as a personality. That is quite a worrying thought.

All of the surreal films we used to watch all those years ago, such as ‘The Terminator’, don’t actually seem so far-fetched to me anymore. Military forces will no doubt be replaced by robots in the near future, something talked about as recently as February of this year. Although the point was stressed that these robots would always be controlled by humans, and not independently, whose to say that this won’t happen. With robots capable of learning, Arnie’s terminator ripping through a police station, killing all in sight isn’t actually far-fetched at all, is it?

Technology is reaching unprecedented levels of complexity. The technological revolution is moving at such an incredible rate, the sky is no longer the limit – that is now the never-ending edges of the universe.

Maybe I’m getting far too ahead of myself mulling over these thoughts but, as a race, one day we’re going to have to ask that question to ourselves.

Do we have the right to become Gods?


The Meaning of Life

I haven’t written for a few days now and this article is why – naturally a lot to think about. I appreciate that this, like any of my other articles, is completely subjective but here are my insights – I hope you enjoy.

Now here’s an interesting topic to write about. Not many, such as the brilliant Monty Python crew, can pull it off successfully, but here goes. The meaning of life is a subject that just about every human will think about at some point in their lives. What is the purpose of us being here? Are we simply a complex mixture of chemicals, reacting to the probabilities of our genetic code? Or maybe we are something more.

Now there are several common paths which are widely accredited as possible truths. The most commonly known is procreation; the simple purpose of being born to produce offspring and carry on the cycle of life.

Now, personally, this isn’t a path I find credible. If we are simply created to create others, what of those males that are born, who would have much preferred to suckle on their fathers teat? Homosexuality as a whole could cover around 5% of the world’s population. Of course, it could be a lot more or less, but with certain societies incredibly closed-minded to such practices, it’s hard to know the actual number. (I won’t go into such bigotry here as I could, and will, do a whole article on the stupidity of certain racists.) Now that would be a rather crass mistake if procreation was our sole purpose. No doubt procreation is essential for life, but is it a sole meaning to our lives? I don’t think so, that would render possibly 30 million lives without purpose.

Religion is the next obvious path. The number of religions in this world are infinite. As the interpretation of everyone’s brain to either the teachings they follow or the philosophies they themselves believe, essentially every single person alive follows their own unique path – or ‘religion’. That’s what brings so much conflict to the inner parts of every religious organisation, which is why I find myself despising large amounts of religion. If everyone could accept the subjectivity of reading texts and interpretation, there would be a lot less conflict in the arrogance of individuals trying to convince everyone that only one word is truth – often by means of violence and threats. As an example, look at the leader of the Catholic church – the pope. Last year he claimed that condoms would help the spread of HIV and AIDs in Africa. I don’t think I need to highlight my view on that, as I assume everybody reading this has been to primary school and could make a more intelligent assessment.

That said, religion does bring such meaning to so many lives that, in fact, a lot of followers dedicate their whole life to the teachings of a few. What I find quite incredulous to my mind is that I see religion quite like a hereditary disease. Depending on whereabouts in the world you are brought up, and the parents you have bringing you into the world, you seem to be assigned a religion. I find that quite hard to get my head around this. I find it’s almost like tribal traditions. Some tribes slaughtered lambs in sacrifice, some slaughtered pigs. Depending on which tribe you were brought up in, that was the ‘word’ you believed. I could never personally base my life’s purpose on this concept. Especially as tribes kill each other because they chose the lamb, not the pig.

Next up – life. The meaning of life is life? Sounds a little surreal when put like that, yet isn’t it the path which makes the most sense? With each breath we take in, we move one step closer to the grim reaper. That’s quite a contradictory thought, potentially both morbid and inspirational. It can be taken either way: sit down and be depressed by the thought that death awaits or make the most of the time the reaper allows. This is a path many, many individuals follow. Live fa(s)t, die young: take in the full force of life, live it to its potential and disregard the consequences. This path can go in many directions depending on the nature of the individual. It could be drinking themselves stupid every night, taking every drug under the Sun. It could be trying that aforementioned procreation – except without the creation.

Sounds fun, does it not? Well, probably not to a Shoalin monk. Although this path no doubt fulfils some of the wildest dreams in a life with no regret, it can often lead to a person being spiritually and mentally unfulfilled. Look at the plights of many former rock stars: a life of unlimited money, sex and drugs often leads to deep depression. So, personally, this isn’t a credible path for me either.

Now the last meaning I’ll bring up: is that there’s no meaning at all. Some people may come to the conclusion that we are simply an anomaly. The whole universe is simply just a chemical reaction and we are a minuscule part of the result. There is no God, there is no meaning to our lives, we simply are born and then we die – nothing we do has the remotest effect on anything.

To counter this kind of argument, I find quite impossible – not because I believe it, but because it’s hard to prove that this isn’t true. For thousands of years philosophers and scientists have asked these questions, and none can give you a definitive answer. Perhaps, in years to come, they may discover the mathematical purpose of our being here, but I can’t see that happening. Life has an aura of mystery, one I’d love to discover, yet I along with many others doubt that I’ll ever find it.

So what is the meaning to life? I could answer you, but to be honest that’s personal.

Yet if you asked me what the meaning was to your life, well, that’s simple. It’s whatever YOU want it to be.