Artificial Intelligence, Real Issue
Smart Box or Real Boy?
I Think Therefore I Am? continued...
Frank Sudia, JD, has slightly different criteria. He says the
ability to make and act on one or more choices out of multiple options, and the
ability to decide which of thousands of possibilities is the best one to use in
an unforeseen situation, may be a basic, working definition of what it means to
"If the machine has the power of self-production -- if it
can seek its own goals or even pick its own goals from some list of goals it
reads about in the newspaper [and decides], 'Oh, I want to look like Madonna,'
-- I think that this ability to choose, guided however it might be, is
indistinguishable from what we consider to be our sense of self," he tells
Sudia is a San Francisco-based e-commerce security consultant
and self-described ethicist, scientist, and thinker about intelligent systems.
He likens the role of the artificial-intelligence systems designer or
robot-maker to that of the parent of an adolescent.
"The teenager starts to have a good variety of responses
[but] not a really great restraint system," he says. "You're trying to
form their character in such a way that they will make reasonable choices that
will be socially beneficial for them. So you play God to an enormous extent
with your children. Forget about forming them into Mozart -- you try form them
into something that can survive by getting them to have a self."
I Make Choices, Therefore I Am?
The ability to make choices alone does not suggest autonomy,
Bostrom points out. The computer Deep Blue defeated chess grand master Gary
Kasparov. It can choose from among millions of possible chess moves in a given
situation, but just try sending it across the street to buy a quart of
"In order to grant autonomy to a human, we require quite a
lot of them," Bostrom says. "Children don't have the full range of
autonomy, although they can do more than choose chess moves or make simple
choices like that. It requires a conception of their well-being and a life plan
and that kind of thing. I don't think any machine that exists on earth today
would have either sentience or autonomy."