If we were to develop robots that had a sense of consciousness, the ability to reason on a moral level, which is really the pinnacle of computer development, would it not call into question the idea of a supreme creator? If mankind was capable of producing thinking, questioning beings, wouldn’t it make God obsolete? We surely could then do what the ‘faithful’ say was only possible to be performed by God.
However, the idea of a conscious machine calls into question the basis of the logic on which it is formed. On the most fundamental level, requiring a machine to be like a human means that they have to accept that 2 + 2 doesn’t always equal 4. It would require the machine to have a sense of perspective, an idea of themselves, of what is, and where they stand in all that. It’s not impossible, but would it require the ultimate application of logic, or the destruction of logic?
Logic is the fundamental principle that currently seperates humans from machines. They only exist because of it, and we can choose to experience it. We can move into a logical mode, but all too often slip out of it because it simply can not explain the irrational behaviour we feel and encounter every day of our lives. A computer needs to know that certain factors are irrefutable, and for a machine to experience what we do, it would need to accept that there is more than just a logical outcome to situations. There is an emotional, mental, aggressive, passive, all outcomes dependent on decisions made based on personal perspective and feeling.
It would seem that robots and humans are not too far apart. Like robots we act every day on a series of programs and instructions, we are taught from birth the parameters of life. we are affected more dramatically by those lessons and experiences taught to us at a young age that we are at in later life, similar to machines which have all levels of programs. We are hard-wired with certain unalterable modes, i.e. instinct and need to survive, to procreate, to have food. A machine will work to maintain a high level of productivity, will automatically hunt down viruses that comprimise the stability of the machine, and we are teaching machines now to build one another. Our responses as humans to any given situation is entirely based on pre-set behaviour and parameters. It may seem that we have free-will, but even our ‘choice’ to do something completely out of the ordinary would reflect a basic predisposition towards that action. On one hand we would appear to have the ability to choose from a series of options depending on the projected outcome, but then computers will problem solve too, extensively in fact, and will make decisions also based on a programmed understanding of supposed outcomes.
What are feelings? One can say that John loves Jane, or one could say that he is experiencing a series of hormonal spikes pre-determined to bring about the act of intercourse, and therefore pro-creation. Logically, a computer would sumise that the most logical process would be to extract reproductional materials from both people and grow them in a test-tube, saving time and trouble. We pursue the illogical path. Why? A sense of fun? The desire to experience and learn from that experience? Can we engineer a being to desire the difficult path for the sake of learning, knowledge, or simply just for the sake of doing it? That is what is required of a machine should we desire for it to become anything like us.
One small point that also amazes me is the level of outrage and religious fervor generated when scientists meddle in the functions of the human body, whether psychologically or physiologically. If God endowed us with the capacity of experimenters and researchers, surely it’s because he wanted it to be so? And I think what religious types are most afraid of is thier egos snapping in two when they realise that mankind might be able to produce something more efficient, complex and more useful to replace the body we were originally ‘given’.
I wonder how much scientific development is being held back because of the small minded religious fanatics that proliferate this world. We might be at the stars by now if it wasn’t for them. Wasn’t it them who condemned Galileo of heresy?