James Newton, a British computer programmer who has written code for major entertainment, education and healthcare programs joins the program.
The first question concerns whether ma an is naturally aggressive, and therefore if AI gets out of control it will also be aggressive (because man has created it). James answers: "Man has created a lot of things that are not aggressive, and there is, therefore, no reason why AI should automatically be aggressive. Every time humans invent some type of new technology, they show their dominance using that technology." Host John Harrison argues that the appearance of human consciousness complicates the matter as situations involving emotions such as being hurt, offended or being proud can influence the way that the technology that we create is used. James comments: "There is an idea that AI may in the future develop consciousness, but nobody knows what consciousness is. Some of the most intelligent people on the planet are asking questions about whether consciousness is part of the physical universe, or is it emergent? like for example when you get lots of single cells converging together that then produces a new kind of being that didn't exist before… One of the ideas is that things get so complex that consciousness emerges out of the complexity."
James stresses that the evolution of consciousness is a very long process. "Animals and plants have evolved over millions and millions of years. The most recent development in computing is the idea of genetic algorithms, which will create many programs, which will create other programs, and they will create, combine, and create something, which is much more efficient than the original program. This is exciting because it can happen very fast in a very fast computer but the selection process in nature has been running for a long long time already. We find that computers can deal with the genetic evolution process but whether it is actually leading to anything more complex or more intelligent remains to be seen…"
A discussion ensues about whether human beings who invent AI are engaging in natural evolutionary processes or not, after all, human beings are also a part of nature in one regard. James comments: "The point is that evolution that happens in a Darwinian sense is something that happens blindly, with transformations, changes in the environment making certain things better fitted for survival. At the beginning of computing, everything was designed to work in a particular way that did not happen in nature."
James further elucidates his point by describing how we the words ‘creative' and ‘intelligence'. "We use the word ‘intelligence' for humans and for mammals in one way, but in a different way when we are talking about machines. Humans are creative, we created ways to make fire, the wheel, and these things never existed before. But computers have not demonstrated very much evidence of creativity. There was some research carried out by professor Margaret Boden at the University of Sussex; she considers that intelligence comes in three forms: in bringing together two completely different unexpected ideas, and finding something interesting that comes out of it. Secondly, it could be something like the creativity of a chess player or a jazz musician, who is working within a set of rules and finding new ways of expressing him or herself. Thirdly, it could be something like Picasso who was working within a set of rules and said no, I am going to break the rules. The nearest that computers get to creativity is in the second category; working within a set of rules that has already been given to them and exploring the possibilities. But the creation of jazz, the creation of chess is beyond them."
There is some discussion in the program about the amount of publicity that has been given recently to people who believe in the idea that we are all living in a computer simulation. James comments: "Imagine that somebody wrote a book which says the opposite. Nobody would buy it." As for the ‘singularity', James comments: ‘When people predict the future, they very often get it very wrong. If you look at the futuristic films from the 1960s for example and see the clothes that they thought that people would be wearing in the year 2000 when you look at them now you think — that is so 60s. …It is true that computing has gone faster and faster over the last few years, but a Danish scientist — Mr. Robert Storm Peterson says: Prediction is difficult especially about the future."
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