I just read an interesting quote in the book, “The Posthuman,” by Rosi Braidotti (2013). On page 58, Donna Haraway is quoted as saying,”…the machines are so alive, whereas the humans are so inert!” (Haraway 1985). Based upon our discussions to date in this course, I wonder yet again about the purpose and intent of AI, and how that evolutionary emergence will replace basic human endeavors like simple work, complex calculations, etc., etc. Visions of “The Jetsons” come to mind where the entire household is run by robots; or “The Forbidden Planet” where a machine eventually learns to bring into reality the base desires and fears of organic beings. What came to mind first was Klaatu’s remarks (“When The Earth Stood Still”) to the inhabitants of Earth as to why he and his fellow “aliens” created robots to begin with: so they (humanoids) might pursue more profitable pursuits. In doing so, they left the basic operations of law enforcement and police services to robots. Klaatu also left open what exactly he meant by “more profitable” pursuits. (An interesting side note here is that later in the film, Klaatu makes mention of a supreme being that has the ultimate say in matters of life and death, thereby limiting the influence of humanist dogma in deciding the fate of the universe. Of course, this may have been more of a bone thrown to the censors of the day rather than a covert political/spiritual statement by the makers of the film.)
Nevertheless moving along . . .throughout film and written media, robots/cyborgs have been viewed as human or humanoid creations that serve the humanoid purpose or have eventually run amok and tried to destroy their own creators. I suppose my query here is by injecting AI into our society, or community, are we trying to enhance our community, transform it, or create a new community with what we view as a new, and revitalized purpose? Further, does the answer to any of those queries reaffirm we ares till struggling with what “community” is supposed to be? Or, what we think it ought to be?
If community includes in its description the subjective and emotional interaction of beings that live within that community, how would an artificial form fit into it? We have discussed the lack of emotions inherent within robots and cyborgs, unless those emotions are pre-programmed into it. In that case then, is the robot or cyborg really feeling those emotions or simply reacting to what the data chip has scripted for it? And if, or when, robots/cyborgs develop true sentience, like Sonny in “I, Robot,” then how will those new lifeforms be integrated into the existing human community?
I am not convinced the deeper, moral questions have been adequately addressed simply because it is clear to me that technology has far outpaced humans. We can create these wonderful machines that look and act and even talk and feel, like humans. But, what happens when we thy break out the pre-scripted environments they have been placed in and start making independent decisions; especially decisions that may run contrary to human interests and intent?
How then will “community” be defined? And perhaps more poignant who, or what, will define it?
Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. Polity Press, Cambridge.
Haraway, Donna. 1985. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s”, Socialist Review 15:2 (1985)