Are the robots we create alive?
To make sure I understand everything, it seems that there are several discussions going on here: 1) What differentiates humans from robots (and plants and animals)? 2) What differentiates robots from plants (or viruses, etc.)?
Could you clarify your answers to these questions? Why isn't a rock alive/human? Why isn't a tree human?
I didn't answer any question. But brought some criteria to help think about the answers.
But you did answer some of them.
That the idea a robot is alive is absurd. But what if a robot like T-850 really existed? The idea a robot is alive is still absurd?
According to the movie, it fulfills both of the criteria I cited above.
But as regards T-850, I don't really know what is going on, but from what I read on wikipedia, there is a robot that has living tissue surrounding it right? In that case, it would be sort of like moss growing on a rock. The rock isn't alive, but the moss on the rock is. Or were you referring to another aspect of T-850?
I think it's more along the lines of: yeah, it's easy to just say "it's absurd" when comparing Java code to a human being. But it wouldn't be so easy to brush off as obvious with an uber-advanced cyborg that looks and acts human to the point you can't tell the difference. At that point, you need to really break it down with some logical arguments as to what defines life or consciousness.
Good points. I'd also like to add that people anthropomorphize (take that, Google) almost everything we see. People see the Terminator as "alive" to some degree simply because it walks and talks like a human. We almost certainly see it as more "alive" on a subconscious level than a supercomputer many times more intelligent just because it can speak.
well, no, I don't think so. There's a difference between a) grasping intellectually that something is a robot and claiming that the logical distinction between robots and living substances corresponds to a real distinction and b) seeing the robot and having difficulty recognizing it as a robot rather than a human.
Hmm. So the terminology is from formal logic. What I'm trying to say is basically, once I know that T-850 is a robot, I can easily distinguish it from a human, at least at the level of thought. In this case, I would argue that the distinction in thought corresponds to a distinction in reality. However, I may not be able to come to a correct understanding of what T-850 is. This, however, does not change the argument, because then I lack a correct understanding of what I am classifying.
Ignoring the organic covering, I would say it's definitely not alive. (at least for now, I am quite happy using the negative entropy test for something being alive)
Since it's not alive, it's not human. :)
But since you brought it up, I would also mention that there are qualitative differences between humans' intellects and computers' precessing power. A computer is basically a bunch of rocks (or tinker toys (http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~cfs/472_html/Intro/TinkertoyComputer/TinkerToy.html)) arranged in a particular way. You can have them find 2^10 but they don't have an UNDERSTANDING of 2 or 10. (Using more terminology from formal logic: They lack the ability to abstract particulars to form universals; they can't have simple comprehensions.)
It doesn't need to be organic to fulfill negentropy. That's why this definition is meaningful on a robot discussion.
Also, the movie makes it quite clear the machines (from the future) are on their own.
And also made it quite clear they are sentient due to some chip designed in a way humans never thought about, until they scavenged one from a terminator.
If we use negentropy to define life, by definition, if it fulfils negentropy, it is organic. (according to Google's dictionary anyways, Merriam Webster suggests some other definitions, but I think they would come to the same thing)
So though I don't don't necessarily accept the negentropy criteria as a satisfactory definition, but for the time being, I'll work with it.
As regards the last two points, remember, I never saw the movie.
Could you explain how the machines being on their own is significant?
What I'm saying is that you can't arrange a bunch of rocks in such a way that they are sentient. Movies can be made where vegetables can talk, but that doesn't mean it can really happen.
We know extremely little about how consciousness physically works. While it is intuitively hard to believe, it is possible that any sufficiently intelligent system could be conscious, even if it is made of rocks (or tennis balls).
I see no reason why plants couldn't eventually develop some form of communication if their environment required it.
I was taught in school organic substances were those composed mostly of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
The machines being on their own and still surviving is a sign of negative entropy.
Using sentience as criterion is problematic because it can't be tested. But I had to bring it here because the discussion was already heading towards philosophy.
Negentropy, on the other side, is a much more concrete criterion, and the broadest definition of life I know of. We could stick to the classic cell criterion, but then it would be too easy to answer the question which started the whole discussion with a no.
I can say with confidence that a rock isn't alive because it displays no signs of negentropy, intelligence, or any physical or informational changes that aren't directly caused by an external source.
A tree is not human because, well, it is in another taxonomic kingdom. :)
Robot's display no signs of negentropy.
A tree is in another taxonomic kingdom BECAUSE it is not human. But how do you know that? (Hint: universals.)
You're right, my point about taxonomy was really circular logic. It was intended as a joke.
Well just because it was a joke doesn't mean I don't still want an answer. :)
A tree isn't human because there are enough significant physical differences to justify two different names/taxonomic categories. That should have been obvious to you. I don't think we mean exactly the same things when we say "human."
I think that when you say "human," you mean more than just the species Homo Sapiens, you also include the concepts of mind and soul. I think you believe that humans are special, or fundamentally different from other animals.
I don't believe Homo Sapiens are really that special when compared to other animals. We are not the only creatures that have developed tools or language. We are not the only creatures to feel emotions or pain, or to be "aware" of our surroundings. Insect societies are fundamentally not too far different from ours. Dogs and pigs are more intelligent than human infants. Butterflies see the world in colors we can't even imagine.
Our greatest claim to being superior to other animals is probably our accomplishments in the STEM fields. But, in that we are quickly being overtaken by machines.
To me, it seems intuitively clear (read: I'm not claiming I can provide a logical proof) that humans are on the other side of an important threshold of intelligence as compared to most or all other animals on earth. And including machines in the discussion seems premature. For all we know, the ability to attain consciousness is related to the materials that form our brains and anything silicon-based is incapable of consciousness.
But even so, I agree we aren't special in any absolute sense. I don't see why chimps or dolphins couldn't evolve to cross that intelligence threshold, if it exists. And despite our remarkable ability to understand abstract concepts, I take it as a given that there are limits to our ability to understand the universe, much as a cat can never understand how a DVD player works the way that we can.
I thought dolphins and mice already had become intelligent. :)
I didn't say that machines were conscious, only that they are very quickly becoming much better at using mathematics and may soon be better than humans at STEM related tasks.
I meant crossing the intelligence threshold that humans have crossed, not just having any degree of intelligence. I'm not sure how to clearly define it. But I think mice would have trouble understanding this discussion. :-) Understanding theory of mind is one important threshold. I think humans have crossed another important threshold (or more than one) in terms of understanding abstract concepts, even compared to chimps and dolphins.
Also I think consciousness is very relevant to claiming machines are "using mathematics". Unless the machine itself becomes conscious, we are using machines to do mathematics. The machine is just a physical structure and reaction, like a crystal lattice. You wouldn't claim a crystal lattice is intelligent or using math, just because we can use math to describe interesting aspects of its structure, would you?
I'll get back to you regarding the Chinese room once I have done more research on it, but I want to return to the discussion of classification of trees and humans again. You can distinguish between trees and humans based on their appearance. Do all trees share something that makes them trees?(Aristotelian form.) Do you have an understanding of what a tree is?
When I say human I mean a rational, sentient, living, material, substance. I'm not a materialist (as I said before, I follow the Scholastic school of thought), but you can't successfully argue against my stance by saying that you have a different idea (which is immaterial) of what a human is. I'm not asking what you think I think a human is, I'm asking what you think a human is.
"I don't believe Homo Sapiens are really that special when compared to other animals. We are not the only creatures that have developed tools or language. We are not the only creatures to feel emotions or pain, or to be "aware" of our surroundings. Insect societies are funduamentally not too far different from ours. Dogs and pigs are more intelligent than human infants. Butterflies see the world in colors we can't even imagine. "
You're completely missing the point. I'm saying that we aren't distinguished from other animals based on these things, so what do you use to distinguish us?
As regards STEM, I'm not an artistic person and I'm not saying art is more IMPORTANT than other things, but it seems to be a difference between humans and other animals. Can you explain why we have art museums and no other animal does?
We are distinguished by biological differences.
Art is a refined extension of beauty. In addition to merely noticing beauty, we create it. Beauty is simply an evolutionary adaptation that makes us seek symmetry and harmony. Other animals can perceive beauty, but only humans have the resources to make art and build museums around it.
Our brains are closely related to consciousness, but they are not necessarily the same thing. And knowing if anything silicon-based is capable of consciousness or not leads to the mind-body problem.
While I agree with Voidious that we don't know enough about our brains to say for sure, I personally speculate that a very powerful supercomputer running very smart software could think like us. I guess that makes me a physicalist.
A normal computer with very smart software could think like us. A supercomputer only provides speed.
Really? The human brain has over two petabytes of long-term memory. Does your computer have a hard drive that size?
You seem to imply a difference between a conscious being deciding to use math and a computer receiving instructions and giving outputs. But, if consciousness is deterministic, is there really any difference between a conscious being receiving inputs (from its senses) and deciding to use math, and a machine receiving inputs (indirectly from conscious beings) and deciding to use math?
You have said that you believe humans are mostly deterministic. There are also many instances of people behaving deterministically. Among them are, as I've noted before, people who have transient global amnesia.
If we are purely deterministic, then no, there's no difference. Math only exists in our minds, so to me, if there's no consciousness, there's no math.
I didn't say we aren't conscious. I said that our consciousness is deterministic, i.e. we give the same outputs when we receive the same inputs. We are just a "physical structure and reaction."
I'd still like to know what you think about the Chinese room thought experiment. It seems very relevant to our discussion.
Why do you assume that we are deterministic? Don't you think it at least seems like we make choices?
We do make choices. I never said or even intentionally implied that we don't.
Determinism is simply the idea that everything in the universe has a causal relationship with everything else in the universe, and can only behave in one way. For example, let's say that I decide to eat a pizza for lunch instead of a salad. A determinist would say that all my past experiences, as well as the environment around me, and countless other things directly caused me to choose to eat the pizza.
Notice that from the deterministic perspective, I actually make a choice. I use all my memories to weigh both options and choose the one that benefits me the most.
Please, listen to the Radiolab clip I linked to. About five minutes in, they tell the story of a woman with transient global amnesia. It is an excellent example of human determinism.
I think most people (including me) would define "choice" in such a way that determinism contradicts it. If there was only ever one possible outcome, no choice was made, only the illusion of one.
I believe that humans are like computers; we have inputs and outputs. When we have the same inputs, we will have the same outputs.
But, we still make a choice. The woman in the clip decided to say the same things over and over, because her inputs were roughly the same.
Well, you're free to use the word that way, but I definitely assign a different meaning to the word, and I bet most people do too. To me, it sounds like the difference between perceiving a choice and actually making one.
Deciding between two potential outcomes. If there was only one potential outcome, it wasn't a choice, only the illusion of one. Real choice definitely implies free will and non-determinism.
But, in my example there were two potential outcomes, pizza or salad.
I'll try a new example: Alice has two options, she could have $1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00 deposited into her bank account, or she could have that much added to her debt. She weighs the two options, and decides to take the deposit because she perceives it to be in her best interest. She could have chosen the second option, but she didn't because she perceived it to not be in her best interest.
Alice's judgement is based on all her memories and past experiences, as well as her current environment, and many other small factors. In order for her choice to be non-deterministic, she would need to abandon all judgement and make her choice completely random.
So essentially, what you're saying is that in order to have freewill and have control over our fate, we need to make all our decisions completely random, without any consideration of how they effect us.
Not at all. You say: "She could have chosen the second option." But you also say there was never any chance she could have chosen the second option, because the series of events is deterministic. Do you really not see a conflict here?
Free will would allow Alice to choose between maximizing money, choosing at random, or simply pissing off Sheldor. In the first, picking the money is the rational choice. In the second, flipping a coin is a rational choice. In the third, not picking the money is the rational choice.
Memories and past experiences help judge what is the best action for each desired outcome, but don't restrict possible outcomes to a single one.
Yes, she could have picked the latter option. It was a potential outcome, as was the former. But, she did not. Why didn't she? Because she used her judgement and decided to pick the former.
Her knowledge and memories were the inputs to her judgement, and her decision was the output. Technically speaking, she did not have free will as her knowledge and memories were acquired from prior events. But, to have free will, she couldn't let prior events determine her decision, so she would have to abandon her judgement.
In conclusion, you can keep your free will,
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose rational judgement.
There was 3 judgements up there. Alice must abandon 2 judgements, no matter the choice made.
Knowledge and memories make Alice realize she has 3 (or more) choices.
She still only has two options: gain an immense sum of money, or spend eternity trying to pay-off that much debt.
You're saying that she has multiple possible motivators. Her motivators define her best interest. If her motivator was to have financial security, her best interest would have her take the money. If she wanted complete free will, her choice could not be determined by prior events, so she would have to either choose randomly, or have someone else choose for her. If her greatest priority in life was to piss me off, then she would perceive choosing the debt to be in her best interest.
Most people would choose the first, and again if repeated. But because there is an economic force acting against free will. Determinists find it fun, liberalists see it with horror.
It IS possible to destroy someones free will through force. Liberalists fight those situations so people can exert their free will without being opposed by externalities.
Another example, gravity. A determinist would brag no one can fly and there is no choice. A liberalist would build an airplane so people can choose to fly or not.
I'm a determinist, and I believe we do have choice. As I've noted before, I believe that we make choices like computers do, our perception of our current environment, as well as our memories of past events, are our inputs, and decisions are our outputs. When our perception and memory give us the same input, we will give the same decisions as output.
Free will is a self-defeating concept, for our choices to be completely non-deterministic, they would have to be truly random (Which I believe is impossible, anyway.), which gives the person in question no say in the matter at all.
I really think you're warping the meaning of the word "choice" here. Would you say a tennis ball makes the choice to bounce off the ground?
- "Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one or more of them. While a choice can be made between imagined options ("what would I do if ...?"), often a choice is made between real options and followed by the corresponding action. For example, a route for a journey is chosen based on the preference of arriving at a given destination as soon as possible. The preferred (and therefore chosen) route is then derived from information about how long each of the possible routes take. This can be done by a route planner. If the preference is more complex, such as involving the scenery of the route, cognition and feeling are more intertwined, and the choice is less easy to delegate to a computer program or assistant."
As I've said before, choice is weighing options and selecting the one that seems to be the most beneficial. Tennis balls do not do this, they are not intelligent systems, they are just objects directly following the laws of pysics. Humans and computers ultimately do follow the laws of physics, but they also exhibit the qualities of intelligence and choice.
I would say that excerpt assumes a degree of free will. To a determinist, a tennis ball bouncing and a human's brain pulsing with electricity and then moving a mouth to form a sentence are just a series of atoms interacting in a purely deterministic way according to the laws of physics. Calling one a "choice" and the other "just objects directly following the laws of physics" seems disingenuous.
But I'll drop it if you want to choose to have your cake and eat it too. ;)
Eating cake is unhealthy. ;)
You are correct. I believe all matter in the universe behaves deterministically according to the laws of physics (even those that we have not yet discovered). Not unlike the way cells in Conway's Game of Life interact with each other deterministically.
Intelligent systems are special arrangements or patterns of matter (or Life cells). Intelligent systems behave differently than non-intelligent systems (like a tennis ball), even though they still follow the same physical laws.
Tennis balls could be used to create logic gates. With enough of them, one could create a very basic (and inefficient) computer. Though the tennis balls themselves cannot make decisions, when enough of them are arranged together, they form an intelligent system that can receive inputs and give outputs.
A man actually did create a Universal Turing Machine in Life, using cells that directly obey deterministic laws.
That still isn't a supercomputer, that is just a storage network. But if I recall the storage capacity of the human brain is still in dispute. Some say its incredibly vast (like you did just now), others claim it is just better at storing the information. I am more in the second camp.
It isn't compression exactly. I would say it is more of useless information is discarded, and useful information is only partially stored. Say I may learn something, but if I never use it, i'll forget its meaning. Meaning my brain got rid that useless information because it was never used. Studies show we forget up to 75% of what we learn on a daily basis. Of course if it got used a lot at some point it will stay in there for future use, though the exact details will get fuzzy with disuse.
It will go from "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs." to "fox jumped over dogs" to "fox (general notion of going over) dog". That makes no sense, so fox... oh, over the dog. What can we use to go over a dog. Well we could jump, or we could hover, fly. But a fox cannot hover or fly, so it was probably jump. So we reconstruct it to be "the fox jumped over the dog." Information was lost, but the general meaning remained.
To further enforce this, I had forgot part of the original saying above. I had lost 'quick'. But then I remembered that oh, its one of those sentences that uses all the letters. I noticed it didn't have a 'q' in it. So I suddenly recalled, oh, "Quick". Well the dog isn't quick, I don't think it quickly jumped, so the fox must be the one who was quick, as most foxes are.
Okay, so a normal personal computer, with extremely large memory and much more storage, running very smart software could be conscious.
But, why bother? What's so great about consciousness? Really, the only advantage brains have over computers is their ability to recognize patterns.