SES 311 Blog 3: Artificial Intelligence

In the search for intelligent life, it is very possible for us to encounter an artificial intelligence created by a species more advanced than us. A sufficiently advanced form of AI could be indistinguishable from natural intelligence as we know it. The question of intelligence questions what we think is true of intelligent and sentient life forms. How would we distinguish between the two, and if we encounter an AI vs another species, do we accept them as a representative of their creators? Do we accept them as a life form if we can't tell the difference? Would we accept our own AI creations as sentient beings?

Here is my point of view on these questions.

Sentience, though artificial, still retains awareness of not only the environment and the universe, but of itself as well. Many ethical issues arises with how AI would develop and how it would effect our world. The underlying thought of artificial intelligence is still that it can reach sentience. If it can ask existential questions about its existence and the AI is able to comprehend those principals, it should be advanced enough to reach sentience. And at which point, it could form a desire to exist. Its a stretch to say that obtaining artificial intelligence will grant a machine desire and free will, but certainly it is not impossible.

Now if such an advanced AI were to be presented to us by an alien species, how would we know? If it can ask questions with substance and communicate like another human being, we may just accept that its a living creature before we find out it is a computer. And at that point do we still accept them as a representative of an alien race? Theres certainly no point in suddenly ceasing communications with a medium between two races, even if that medium is an AI.

The question of AI is tricky. I believe that once sentient, they are no different from sentience life forms other than biological platforms. 

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Comment by Patrick on April 10, 2018 at 8:59am

Life is life, it is irrelevant if it was engineered or emergent, synthetic or biological.  There need not be any distinction between the two outside of medical/repair reasons.  This is more of a question of, 'are we as humans grown up enough to recognize that?' and furthermore when we make our own AGI or it emerges will we be ready to accept that individual (or hive mind or ... ) as not only life, but as an entity entitled to the same rights and respect as any other human.  It'll be wise to classify this new life form of ours as h*** digitalis.

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