Ever stop to think about humans’ state of affairs with artificial intelligence (A.I.)? It’s a lot like a girl who’s fallen in love with a charming, attractive man who is also a serial killer: She is aware that he is dangerous, maybe even lethal; but she forces herself to love him anyway, trusting that her faith in his inner goodness will win out in the end and not leave her in a shallow grave in little, hacked-up pieces.
Or, rather, that’s how our relationship with A.I. could be; in actual fact, we stay with A.I. because we need its help, but we expect it’s going to turn and hack us up any second now. Continue reading
Personal security has taken a number of recent hits, most notably with the reports of recent hacking into the databases of Target, Home Depot and other national retailers. Financial institutions are finally concluding that the U.S. needs to start using chip-embedded credit cards to better protect their funds and identities.
On the heels of that, the iPhone 6 has been released with an encryption system that (supposedly) no government or agency can break, keeping anything stored therein private from prying eyes. On one hand, law enforcement agencies are complaining that this will only make their jobs more difficult. On the other, agencies are realizing this makes their operatives’ data better protected. And, of course, private individuals like the idea of being able to secure all of their data, allowing them to, as law enforcement puts it, “place themselves beyond the law.”
But as secrets become easier to keep, we run the risk of ne’er-do-wells attacking us more often, targeting our institutions, our money, and even our lives, using the same security measures we rely on. Does my need for privacy include allowing a terrorist an easier time destroying my plane? Is the collection of internet porn on my cellphone so important that we should also allow foreign agents to store their collection of bomb making manuals and list of suppliers on their cellphones? Do we have to allow people to keep whatever secrets they have, only to examine them within an inch of their lives every time they approach a public place? Continue reading
Robot. Sentience. They are two words that, when considered at the surface, don’t seem to be able to go together. After all, a robot is a mechanical creation, generally considered incapable of sentience, or full self-awareness. We specifically use the word “robot” to imply that the machine cannot have sentience; a robot is a clockwork thing.
When we try to suggest that a mechanical creation has sentience, we tend to immediately rename it. Cyborg. Android. Replicant. Synthezoid. We distance ourselves from the word “robot,” and seek to redefine the creation to stand for something beyond its mechanical parts.
Is it because we want to keep the concept of “robots” as simple things? Or is it because we see sentience as being beyond mechanical creations? Do we see sentience as requiring some special spark that robots are incapable of? Continue reading