In the movie HER, Samantha is a fictional operating system. Sam, that’s her nickname, she organizes your emails and calendar for you, she proof reads your letters and she completes that book proposal you’ve always been meaning to finish. She really became a good companion for the lonely Theodore Thombly and supplies a romantic music composition for him.
This is the idea that a super-intelligent bodiless computer would seek romance with a squishy glorified primate seems sort of odd. Would an AI really be able to make a deep emotional connection with a being who thinks millions of times more slowly than it does, and who lives such a radically different existence from its unbounded, silicon and fiber-optic universe? Think of it this way: Could you really fall in love with an Operating System?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still a distant dream but the experts are already pondering its potential impact on humanity. Even AI far less sophisticated than Samantha's could engender some serious issues, says Kate Darling, an intellectual property researcher at MIT’s Media Lab who is also on the forefront of robo-ethics. One-sided love affairs are more likely, at first. A man of Twombly’s type might be enthralled by Siri 2.0 -- but she’ll only ever give polite quips and Google Search results in return. “We’re going to be able to fall in love with AI long before it is able to fall in love with us,” Darling says.
Issue 1: How Close Are We To Artificial Intelligence?
The movie "Her" is set in a safely near future. It was just hazy and weird enough to seem different, yet not outside a present-day viewer’s lifespan. And likewise, most predictions -- by experts and amateurs alike -- place the advent of truly self-aware artificial intelligence in the realm of “just around the corner,” according to Stuart Armstrong, an Oxford University philosopher who works at the Future of Humanity Institute.
Armstrong has been analyzing hundreds of AI predictions as he posted an initial write-up of his findings, and has found little difference between timelines hazarded by experts and non-experts. As he have said, “the most common prediction is 15 to 20 years from when the prediction is being made”
One problem in trying to pin down a timeline for the development of AI is that the goalposts for what constitutes true “intelligence” keep moving. It’s harder and harder to identify the features that you could call uniquely human. Behaviors that we thought could only be accomplished by humanity turn out to be within the reach of computers, and start to look less like intelligence and more like database processing.
“No one knows what the problem is, so we have no clear idea how to solve it. You’re talking about an entity that has never existed in human history,” Armstrong says. “If you told people 10 or 15 years ago that we’d have a computer that could win on ‘Jeopardy,’ they’d say that AI is solved -- and it’s not.”
Issue 2: No Need to Procreate
We humans prize our humanity, and we love to project it onto everything from puppies to household appliances.
“Even those of us who work with robots every day and know they’re not real tend to anthropomorphize them,” Darling says. “We’ll think that they’re cute, give them a gender, or ascribe intent and states of mind. It’s something we like to do.”
But there’s little reason to expect that true AI would bear any resemblance to a human personality. Most AI in fiction -- from "2001: A Space Oddity"’s HAL 9000 to any number of B-movie robots -- are made by humans, for humans.
“Every single AI that’s ever been in any movie is a human,” Armstrong says. “The evil ones are generally emotionally repressed humans, while the good ones are generally affectionate saints. All of these fall within the very narrow bounds of humanity.”
The reality of AI might be something wholly alien. A bodiless program like Samantha might have a fairly different notion of her individuality,...
References: 1. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/27/what-are-the-ethics-of-human-robot-relationships
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