Artificial Intelligence, Real Issue
Smart Box or Real Boy?
I Buy Groceries, Therefore I Am? continued...
"If an AI got to look like a dog, maybe it would have the
rights of a dog. ... If it got to look like Einstein, maybe it would have the
rights of an Einstein," Sudia says.
It's certainly possible to design an intelligent system that
could, say, do the grocery shopping and pay at the register for us. To do this,
it doesn't have to look like a human, says Ian Horswill, PhD, assistant
professor of computer science at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
"You can have systems which to all intents and purposes are
intelligent -- at least a lot more intelligent than pencils or word processors
-- but don't have the ... characteristics of human existence," Horswill
There's no reason, for example, that a shopping robot needs to
look like your Uncle Chuck. It could be a rolling cash register -- a simple box
with a screen, grabber arms for taking boxes of corn flakes off the shelf, and
a drawer for holding the change. But it would still be an "it" and not
a "him" or a "her," Horswill contends.
"You could build a machine with a Commander Data-like body
and give it emotions, and then remove its brain and put it in a trash-can robot
with a cash drawer and only allow it to communicate in Morse code," he
says, " My guess is that most people would be much more willing to switch
off the trash-can robot then they would Commander Data.