Jan 14, 2016
I've started watching this new TV series called "Humans," which is about artificial intelligence in a near-future version of Britain. It's pretty enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to seeing more episodes. So far I've just watched the first two.
But I want to talk about one big problem with "Humans" - it's basically just a story about slavery. When you think about it, the whole drama in "Humans" revolves around the question of whether it's ethical to treat your robots like slaves instead of like full-fledged people. And I think an AI story could be so much more than just that.
Nov 17, 2015
I'm still talking about the paradox of free will, and I promised last time to explain how people can want things even though rivers and other inanimate, material things do not. Stated simply, a living thing is trying to do something, whereas an inanimate thing is not. All living things try to survive in one way or another, and that's the whole difference. We want to survive, whereas rivers don't care one bit.
The next question, though, is how goals arise in complex systems. That's the key question, but there is actually a clear, well-established explanation. Goals arise due to evolution and natural selection.
Oct 15, 2015
Last time I was talking about the paradox of free will and how the whole concept of free will seems incoherent and absurd. When people hear this kind of thing, they typically go bonkers and wonder how we can ever have a will at all. How can we want anything then? How can we feel love or pain or any of those kinds of emotions? How can mere chemicals ever fall in love?
Well, I've already explained previously that wanting is like inertia. It's like a physical force pushing you in some direction. The will is like a flowing river, pulled downhill by gravity. The river does not choose freely to flow this way or that, but it certainly does flow! This is what I mean when I say there can still be will even when it's not free.
Sep 30, 2015
The more I think about free will, the more confused I get. The whole concept just seems incoherent and meaningless. It's not just that we don't have free will; it's that the very idea of free will is nonsense.
By the way, I'm using Jerry Coyne's definition of free will as "could have done otherwise." In other words, determinism rules out free will. So now I want to suggest a simple conundrum that seems to rule out the possibility of anyone having free will at all.
Sep 18, 2015
Robots seems to dredge up all our worst fears - if it's not battle droids trying to kill us, it's sex robots stealing our very hearts! And as you might expect, there is a high-profile organization already at work out there to save us. It's the "Campaign Against Sex Robots," and they say sex with robots is just bad.
Well, the unique thing about robot sex is the question of whether it's consensual. Yes, it's bad to have sex with somebody when it's not consensual. And then there's the question of why a true AI machine, with self-interest and a mind of its own, would ever want to have sex with a human being at all.