Euww a robot… Kill it!Posted on August 14th, 2008 1 comment
The line of reasoning and questioning goes something like this:
- Moore’s law doesn’t show any sign of failing, causing computer power to double every 18 months.
- This is exponential growth.
- With that in mind, it’s entirely feasible that within the next few decades we have machines that think.
- Thinking could lead to emotions.
- If a robot thinks and has emotions, what happens when you pull the plug?
It’s a question that people can dismiss pretty easily right now, but what separates us from machines right now? The will to live? An ability to reproduce? Thinking? Emotions?
What if we made a robot that could do all of those things? Would it running out of batteries constitute dying? Would it just stop thinking when it was turned off, or would it go into some robot afterlife?
While it’s unquestionably a long time before those questions will require answers, it’s closer than you think.
I’ve read that this line of questioning alone has caused people to rethink their place in the scheme of things, and whether or not there’s an afterlife. I think that as soon as you can accept that we’re not on a throne, but rather a product of a several hundred million year arms race, it seems both amazing that we can even conceive the idea of a robot that acts like a person, and that there’s no need for an afterlife.
Its like the thought experiment of:
If you were able to swap one neuron/synapse in a human’s brain with a man-made mechanical/electrical/chemical 100% equivalent, is that person still a ‘human’? What if you replace each one, one by one until there is only 1 left, then you replace even the last one. At what point, if any, did the person stop being a ‘human’? Or does the idea of ‘human’ lose meaning?