David Worboys – Can We Control Ourselves

: In very different ways, Frankenstein and Alan Turing made us aware of the possibilities of artificial intelligence

The opportunities and the dangers in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have received increasing publicity over the past fifty years, especially in the last ten.

The benefits of increasing advances in technology are extraordinary. From distance and direction sensors to language translation, from speech and facial recognition to journey mapping and robots in manufacturing and medicine, it seems that human intelligence is becoming superfluous. AI can even convert text into video.

All these advances were achieved by humans, but can we regulate AI´s advance or can it eventually take control of us?

One of the dangers is the loss of jobs. How to distribute a nation´s income and wealth generated by AI in the absence of labour and wages or profession and salaries? But, beyond that, what will be the nature of the human race.

Will human evolution lead to the ability to create future humans by means other than natural procreation? Humans have already been cloned in China, but will we be able order or otherwise acquire a made-to-order son, daughter or cross-between-the-two? This would involve modifications to the existing cloning procedures. Let´s take the cases of Ben Dover and Helen Highwater (not their real names!).

Ben Dover has an inflated ego and a high opinion of himself and would like a son exactly in his image. The same blue eyes, dark hair and smug smile; the same interest in Mexican history and modern art; the same prowess in business and tennis. So, he goes to the necessary authority, presents his specifications and orders a suitable baby.

Helen Highwater, herself rather plain, reads fashion and celebrity magazines with envy and wants a daughter with good looks and style. Can the stem cells be engineered to produce these features?

If such human-created bodies start to populate the planet, they will lack the distinguishing feature of all humans who have existed until now – the soul. So, could the planet be populated by a mixture of natural humans and created ones? And, if so, would the vast majority of artificial humans (without souls) be in the technologically developed countries? Which species would have dominance? And how could they be distinguished?

The AI humans can compose music, paint portraits and create art and scientific concepts but would they be able to make plans for the future and reminisce over the past? To imagine hypothetical situations or feel emotions? To distinguish between right and wrong?

Humans can already create a body and a brain – but not a mind. The brain responds to and is controlled by the mind. The mind, in turn, can´t function without the use of the brain. Furthermore, it is surely impossible for humans to create a soul or a spirit.

Could a manufactured mind have feelings of guilt, forgiveness, sympathy and euphoria?. It is surely the soul that distinguishes humans throughout history from the alarming possibilities of the future.

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Written by

David Worboys

Offering a unique insight into everything from politics to food to sport, David is one of the Euro Weekly News´ most popular columnists.