Introduction to AI5th Lecture - Philosophical and Ethical ConsiderationsWouter Beekme@wouterbeek.com6 October 2010
Last week’s ism’s Behaviorism: mental states are attributed based on external observations. Functionalism: mental states are causal connections between input and output, i.e. structural configurations. The study of the brain is irrelevant to the study of the mind. Biological naturalism: mental states crucially depend on a neurological substrate. Computationalism: The mind is an information processing system. Thought is computation.
Weak AI || Strong AI Weak AI: machines simulate intelligence / behave as if they are intelligent. Biological naturalism Strong AI: machines are intelligent. Behaviorism, functionalism, computationalism Most AI researchers don't care… [Russell&Norvig]
Thought experiments A fictitious experiment that gathers intuitions regarding some problem statement. Plato’s allegory of the cave. “Much of modern physics is built not upon measurement but on thought experimentation.” [Martin Cohen] Shrödinger’s cat, Maxwell’s demon, Galileo’s Tower of Pisa experiment (1628) Crucial to philosophy of mind and philosophy of AI. Often related to SF literature: time travel, zombies, strange machines.
Chinese room experiment John Searle, 1980, Minds, Brains, and Programs A human is inside a room and is handed programs and data. By following the programs meticulously, the human is said to ‘translate’ and ‘understand’ his data manipulation task. Behaviorism, functionalism, computationalism But the human does not understand the manipulation task at all! “Programs are neither constitutive nor sufficient for minds.” Thought requires intentionality.
Intentionality The property of mental states to be directed towards some object, i.e. to be about that object. Intentionality is a characteristic of all and only acts of consciousness. Thus setting conscious phenomena apart from physical, unconscious phenomena. According to this definition: No machine can be conscious. Syntactic operations need not be indicative of semantic content.
Qualia The unit of subjective conscious experience. The way in which things seem to us. The “what it is like”-aspect. For instance: The pain of a headache. The smell of flowers. The red color of tomatoes. Qualia pose a problem to a materialist world-view. But remember: most AI researchers don't care… Could this be a blind spot to AI research?
Related to the “argument from various disabilities” “Be kind, resourceful, beautiful, friendly, have initiative, have a sense of humor, tell right from wrong, make mistakes, fall in love, enjoy strawberries and cream, make someone fall in love with it, learn from experience, use words properly, be the subject of its own thought, have as much diversity of behaviour as a man, do something really new.” [Turing1950] If qualia are not needed in order to replicate these kinds of behavior, then an AI researcher couldn’t care less. But if qualia are necessary in order to replicate certain forms of behavior, then weak and strong AI become the same undertaking.
Mind-body problem How are mental states related to bodily states? Materialism: there are no immaterial aspects of thought. Compatible with functionalism and strong AI. Cartesian dualism: The immaterial mind and the material body are ontologically distinct,yet causally related. There is some bit of magic to the brain that makes it connect with an immaterial mind. Compatible with biological naturalism and the existence of intentionality and qualia.
Philosophical zombie Like a normal human being, but lacking qualia. When it sees red tomatoes it can ascertain that they are indeed red, but cannot consciously experience their redness. Problem of (the existence of) other minds. We presuppose that one can lack qualia and yet still be a human being in all physical aspects. Thereby presupposing that qualia cannot be physically motivated.
Mary’s room experiment Mary the scientist lives in a black and white room. She learns all there is to know about the perception of the color red in physical terms. I.e. a functionalist description of the process. E.g. how certain wavelengths relate to the neurological state of recognizing something to be red. If Mary leaves the room and observed a red object for the first time, will she thereby attain new knowledge? Frank Jackson, 1982, Epiphenomenal Qualia.
Leibniz’s mill “One is obliged to admit that perception and what depends upon it is inexplicable on mechanical principles, that is, by figures and motions. In imagining that there is a machine whose construction would enable it to think, to sense, and to have perception, one could conceive it enlarged while retaining the same proportions, so that one could enter into it, just like into a windmill. Supposing this, one should, when visiting within it, find only parts pushing one another, and never anything by which to explain a perception. Thus it is in the simple substance, and not in the composite or in the machine, that one must look for perception.” [Leibniz, 1714, Monadology]
Brain prosthesis experiment Piecemeal replacement of neurological configurations by structurally identical electronic configurations. External behavior must stay the same, but the internal experience goes away. Under the assumption that external behavior remains unaffected, the waning of internal experience must proceed at once. This means that any prosthesis, however small, could result in an instantaneous and complete removal of internal experience.
Brain in a vat Not about the functionalism/naturalism-dichotomy. Because supposed qualia can still be experienced and attributed to the neural substrate. It questions the veracity of the thoughts one entertains. Propositions that relate to bodily experience are all falsely entertained. E.g. “I am walking.”
Brainstorm machine Based on the 1983 film Brainstorm. A helmet allows sensations to be carried over from one person to another. With eyes closed I accurately report everything you are looking at. I marvel at how the sky is yellow, the grass red. Suppose inverting the connection makes me report the sky is blue, the grass green. Which is the right way of connecting? Dependent on a calibration of the two subjects' reports. Conclusion: no intersubjective comparison of qualia is possible. (Remember: the problem of other minds.) Daniel Dennet, 1997, Quining Qualia
Technological singularity Machines that surpass human intelligence. Exclusively quantitative view of AI research. ‘Intelligence’ is a word that we attribute to specific kinds of behavior. Is intelligence an inherently anthropomorphic attribute? And if it is not, what would it matter for humans to be confronted with something they cannot understand?
Ethical questions People lose their jobs due to AI. R&N: AI has created more jobs than it has eliminated. But the jobs that are eliminated and created are not the same. AI catalyzes the class-distinction between high and low educated. People have too much / too little leisure time. People loose their sense of being unique. R&N: As with Copernicus, Kant, Darwin. But AI not only attacks the ideology of human superiority, but actively proposes an alternative. People loose their privacy. Loss of accountability.