The Turing Test for Humanity

“I think, therefore I am.” When is AI a conscience entity?

[A] curious article popped up this morning regarding a telephone conversation with a computer claiming to be human. Apparently, Time Magazine bureau chief Michael Scherer put this entity to a series of ‘tests’ to prove whether or not the caller was really a human female called ‘Samantha West’:

After asking the telemarketer point blank if she was a real person or a computer-operated robot, she chuckled charmingly and insisted she was real. Looking to press the issue, Scherer asked her a series of questions, which she promptly failed. Such as, “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” To which she responded by saying she didn’t understand the question. When asked what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained of a bad connection (ah, the oldest trick in the book).

You can listen to two conversations taped during this series of ‘tests’ here. Believe me, it’s worth your time to do so. Why? Because we are standing at the very doors to a future where computers and android entities may be ranked alongside humans as legal persons. Continue reading “The Turing Test for Humanity”

The Rise of Sentient Machines

[S]ince Derek and I cut the ‘cable cord’ six months ago, we find our news via Roku’s CNN International or BBC News channels. This morning, a stick-thin female news anchor on CNN Int. conducted an interview with someone I’ll just call Mr. X (sorry, didn’t get the name of the gentleman–I’ve been scouring the CNN website, but there’s no video of the spot there), and the topic centered around the ethics behind sentient machines. In particular, should ‘self-aware’ drones be deployed?

If we learned anything in the 20th century it is that science fact very often follows science fiction, so let us turn to the disturbing futures depicted in ‘Terminator’ and Battlestar Galactica. In both, machines designed as humanity’s helpers became ‘self-aware’ and decided that humans were inferior–therefore, it logically followed that humans should be eliminated. A similar theme arose in the original Star Trek film (based on a script from the TV series). A US probe sent out to ‘learn all that is learnable’ returns with an enhanced ‘brain’ that is now sentient, seeking to destroy all ‘biological units’ within its path.

Cambridge professors, Huw Price and Jean Tallin had this to say in an article they-coauthored earlier this year:

… the moment computers become better programmers than humans marks the point in history where the speed of technological progress shifts from the speed of human thought and communication to the speed of silicon. This is a version of Vernor Vinge’s “technological singularity” – beyond this point, the curve is driven by new dynamics and the future becomes radically unpredictable, as Vinge had in mind.

Price and Tallin, are so concerned about the race to robotic sentience, that they’ve partnered with fellow professor Martin Rees, to create The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. Continue reading “The Rise of Sentient Machines”