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The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Part -4 Robots, Androids and Cyborgs

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Part -4 Robots, Androids and Cyborgs Back

In the previous parts of this series we examined what’s happening in the world around us. It was a glimpse of the various facets that AI is taking and real life topical issues with regard to AI, as they exist today. In this part, I will need to move to a more imaginary time in the future based on the trajectory where AI appears to be headed.

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Part -4 Robots, Androids and Cyborgs

In the previous parts of this series we examined what’s happening in the world around us. It was a glimpse of the various facets that AI is taking and real life topical issues with regard to AI, as they exist today. In this part, I will need to move to a more imaginary time in the future based on the trajectory where AI appears to be headed.

We talked last time, about the most basic adaptations of AI and it’s application to human assistance in the form of Bots and Robots. These are still programmed pieces of software or machines which are adaptations of basic Technology. So Robots are programmed mindless slaves. Let’s now examine the other aspects as we develop on possible areas of Robotic evolution.

There has been a lot of talk about Androids in recent years. Androids are mechanical beings which have human forms attitudes and characteristics. So say a mechanical and mobile, human looking version of Alexa. So imagine if AI was to develop and give a mechanical Alexa type of Android an AI brain. You would have an Alexa type Android with mobility, movement and an attitude. She would look human and also complain about too much work or too many questions being asked. Those would be human characteristics.

So let’s explore this further. The AI that is being created for say self driving cars will probably need to be so advanced that it will be very intelligent. It will be able to recognize that in a residential neighbourhood when a ball appears between two parked cars it will be followed by a child. So the car will either brake or slow down to allow for that margin of safety. It will probably have Face or other Recognition Technology which will enable it to determine the age of a pedestrian so that it can determine how much to slow down for an older person versus a younger person who can cross the road quicker.

Let’s further explore what happens if Corporations offer a lot of money to people who may want to digitally clone their brains. What if a way to download a human brain is discovered or a human brain replicated in a bio-mechanical form and planted in an Android. The Android will now be able move, talk, experience and have emotions or senses too. Will this Android then be a Machine or a Human?

Let’s examine this from another point of view- Cyborgs . A Cyborg is not like an Android (a complex robot that looks like a human). A Cyborg is a living breathing and even potentially procreating being. This evolution to Cyborgs may come in many ways. But for now, let’s examine a possible scenario - through medical advancements. Today, you can get a titanium hip or knee implant. What if in a few decades you could replace your skeletal system by a lightweight titanium frame. Your skin or a never deteriorating version of it were to be developed in a laboratory. What if a heart could be built in a Lab Factory and transplanted to humans. Would such a human or Cyborg be a human or a machine? This is likely to happen relatively soon. We will begin with Androids and medical science will find a way to replicate human parts . Bionic beings will become a reality.

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This will really blur the line between man and machine. Humans may begin to prefer the strength and tireless activity of a machine. Some may begin to prefer the immense supercomputer speed of an AI brain. Some may chose to be part Machine.

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At first, all this looks far away but think back to fifty years ago. Robots, Androids and Cyborgs were restricted to comic books and films. It’s almost reality now.

This brings me to the ethical issues on these matters

  •  Should we humans become creators of life? No species has ever done it before. None has challenged nature in this way.
  •  How will we deal with androids and cyborgs who will be human in every way? Once they have emotion and senses they will be like what we are. We will need a whole new set of laws of how to determine the difference between humans and human characteristics. We will need new thinking on how each can be treated. What will be their human or not so human rights?

 We are at a stage in Humanity where the first person who will live for a thousand years could be alive on this earth today. With replacement parts for the human body being produced in a Lab Factory. Are we ready for eternal life?

This series continues.....

 



Mr. Arvind Chopra
Senior Technical Advisor
SCV & Co. LLP