Often, the ultimate stage of artificial intelligence is envisioned in our image: a conscious and autonomous anthropomorphic intelligence. This Darwinist artificial intelligence ends up feeling threatened and becomes obsessed with the eradication of the threat, in this case we, poor human beings doomed to genocide. Is an artificial anthropomorphic intelligence possible, necessary and desirable?
An artificial intelligence in our image
“If triangles had a God, they would give him three sides.” – Charles de Montesquieu
Artificial intelligence is in fashion. We talk about it everywhere. If you want to raise money for a project … sprinkle it with the term “Artificial Intelligence” and you will have no trouble finding funding. The theme is buoyant but it arouses fear.
Fear because an awakening to the consciousness of the machine could lead to autonomy and a Darwinian threat: the machine would come to feel threatened and could decide to eradicate competition (humanity) to survive. We project in the advent of this divinity all our most exterminating defects, rather than our most benevolent qualities; this tells about the image we have of our own species! Thus this imagined artificial intelligence is endowed with a survival instinct, with its own moods, fears, and personality. Isn’t this vision naively anthropomorphic?
If one examines the course of evolution that has produced survival instinct, consciousness and personality, it seems absurd to want to embody the same outcome in an artificial intelligence.
The human being is not just a brain … there are the glands too
Out of the brain we are studded with a whole network of glands producing various chemical substances that will affect our personality, who we are. Let’s stop on some of these glands.
Men have testicles that produce testosterone. This testosterone influences our personality, our libido. Inject yourself with testosterone, and you may become someone more aggressive. A chemical substance can have a direct effect on the personality.
Women produce far less testosterone than men, but they produce more estrogen. Estrogens are produced by the ovaries and placenta. Here again, these hormones influence the mood and therefore the personality; moral declines have been correlated with decreases in this hormone in women. This steroid also plays a role in sexual behavior.
Remove all testosterone and estrogen from an individual and you will change its behavior in depth.
And what about the thyroid gland, which secretes triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) whose metabolic role is essential, so much that a disruption can cause again various disorders up to depression.
On another level, did you know that our gut contains up to a kilo of bacteria, covering an area of 250 square meters the size of a tennis court? Ample surface to host our one hundred thousand billion intestinal microorganisms … Exciting recent research has shown that this microbiota was unique to each individual, as are our fingerprints. The human brain would be influenced by this microbiota that could affect our anxiety levels.
What would be our command center that is the brain without glands to operate on? But that’s not all….
The archaic brain
Animals such as mammals, but also reptiles and birds act but do not “think” in the same way as humans. They act largely by “instinct”. Instinct is innate behavior (not acquired) coded in the most archaic parts of the brain. We humans also have instincts: for example, the human baby will suck his mother’s breast, instinctively without having first learned how to do it.
Some of our feelings can also occur instinctively, such as fear of a physical threat or sexual attraction to a particular partner.
These spontaneous manifestations are said to be archaic because they appeared earlier in the chain of evolution than the thinking capacity of humans.
To encumber an artificial intelligence with the product of our evolution? What’s the point?
Endocrine system, microbiota, instinct, brain … This tortuous network shapes us, makes us a very sophisticated beast. Our loves, our anger, our kindness, our inspiration, our instinct for survival … everything is the result of a long chain of old, complex and opportunistic evolutions.
The brain is the great orchestrator… but an artificial intelligence in our image, with a consciousness (called strong IA), autonomous and able to feel similar emotions, should be burdened with all our endocrine, instinctive and microbiotic systems (among others). For how can one imagine emotions like love or anger, in a brain torn from all its glands and its instinctive structure?
Is it only realistic to fear the development of an anthropomorphic and conscious artificial intelligence? Is it in the baggage of artificial intelligence researchers to even want to reproduce human intelligence and consciousness, whose functioning does not only imply an isolated calculator in our cranial box, but an entire holistic system?
A weak, non-anthropomorphic artificial intelligence, but nevertheless useful
A so-called ‘weak’ artificial intelligence is an unconscious intelligence that can at best simulate intelligent behavior or feelings, but without the ability to “feel” them.
For example, such a non conscious IA could be developed and devoted to finding remedies for various diseases. This intelligence could be questioned about various diseases, in order to find various useful protein structures. Without its own autonomy, It could still find solutions that are inaccessible to ordinary humans.
Future Is Great encourages the research and development of a weak AI. The responsibility of the manipulator, the Man, is then central. Technology being a tool, the responsibility lies with those who use it. It is our duty to develop an ethic to supervise weak AIs lacking autonomy and having the function of serving humanity.
Future Is Great does not encourage the development of a strong, conscious, and autonomous artificial intelligence shaped in our image. The elaboration of such an intelligence is far from being within our reach contrary to what the catastrophic scenarios are used to peddle, and it would not be necessary anyway to push the AI so far to reap some benefits. Therefore it seems useless, aberrant, horribly complex or even dangerous to reproduce the fruit of our evolution in an artificial system. What interest would we have to endow this intelligence with emotions such as hatred or anger?
These emotions served our survival instinct well; any emotion has its own purpose, but why embed them in an IA?
Future Is Great is not intended to control or give an opinion on all future technologies … we are only interested in those techs that can help us achieve our ultimate goal: live as long as desired, surrounded by those who are dear to us. Strong IA not being absolutely necessary to reach this objective, it is thus outside the scope of our concerns and responsibilities.
Computer mind uploading… without my testo?
Whole brain emulation (WBE), mind upload or brain upload (sometimes called “mind copying” or “mind transfer”) is the hypothetical futuristic process of scanning the mental state (including long-term memory and “self”) of a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computer. The computer could then run a simulation model of the brain’s information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain (i.e., indistinguishable from the brain for all relevant purposes) and experiences having a conscious mind.
I cannot be suspected of being pessimistic or technophobic. But uploading the mind into a computer system deserves the same kind of questioning.
Let’s pretend that my brain is uploaded and “reproduced” in a computer system. Let’s pretend that my five senses are simulated so that this emulated brain can receive information.
Now, let’s imagine that my simulated double is shown a picture of the woman of my dreams in underwear. I choose voluntarily an illustration that does not leave indifferent … what will happen then? Will my computer brain have desire? How could my dry double experience a desire similar to my wet biological being, without my simulated brain being bathed in testosterone produced lower in my body? If the desire is simulated, so without real testosterone particles to influence it; on what basis is it calibrated? Up to what degree will this desire be expressed? From which precursors?
To push the idea further; how could I be faithfully simulated in a computer, when we know that the functioning of my brain is influenced by the endocrine system, my kilo of microbiota, and by so many other factors that unroll outside of the brain?
Did the researchers also plan to simulate my testicles in the machine? The billions of bacterias in my microbiota? If this is not the case then the simulated thing will be different from my person. It will be something else. Not necessarily less good … but different. Not me.
During an old email exchange on the subject with one of the top person of the field, I was told that the endocrine system would also be simulated … and that it would require much less power and bandwidth than brain simulation. There is pertinence in this remark …. if one develops the capacity to model the brain in all its complexity … modeling the endocrine system becomes child’s play!
A reading of the Wikipedia page on the subject of “mind uploading” does not make you optimistic though. The uploading of the mind seems above all to be reduced to a “neural network emulation” …. but what constitutes a human being, what shapes his psyche includes a much larger holistic whole. The endocrine system, microbiota system, circadian system, nervous system, reproductive system, circulatory, digestive, muscular, renal …. they all contribute to the expression of our identity. A digital clone could not ignore the influence of any of them.
There is work.
A lot of work!
In this post I wanted to raise several points:
- The fundamental difference between weak (non-conscious) AI and strong (conscious) AI.
- The ability to reap the benefits of weak AI, without the need for consciousness in the machine.
- Our consciousness, our personality is not just the product of an isolated calculator in our cranial box; the brain is influenced by a complex entanglement of systems resulting from a long evolutionary process.
- The absurdity of wanting to create a conscious machine in our image, which would require transposing the complex product of our evolution and thus our survival instinct.
- To reproduce the neuronal network of the brain in a computer would be insufficient to simulate the personality of an individual; this would require a holistic emulation.
Note: this article does not voluntarily deal with the subject of strong non-anthropomorphic AI; a self-evolved AI with dissimilar consciousness and emotion.
Call to action, your turn!
Use the comment section of this post to share your fears and hopes about artificial intelligence.What problem could it solve / create?
Do you see it as a threat?
Should the development of strong IA be prohibited? Why? Why not?
- Gut Flora:
- Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior
- Thyroid hormone: Influences on mood and cognition in adults.
- Mind uploading
- On the effects of testosterone on brain behavioral functions
- Why aren’t men as caring as women? Blame their hormones! High levels of testosterone affect parts of the brain linked with emotion