How intelligent are the artificially intelligent?

 

By Hans Olav Arnesen

Can humans, through science, one day replace God as creator of life? Is it possible that humans can spawn new species – artificial Adams and Eves? At least some of us mortals seem to have the ambitions of deities. The Russian mogul, Dimitry Itskov, wants to become immortal by transferring the human consciousness, first to an artificial body, and finally to a hologram. Immortality, most would agree, is a prerequisite for divinity, but not all deities are creator-gods. Could it be that creating intelligent life is a greater accomplishment than achieving immortality for yourself?

Well, how far off are we from creating artificial life? Seeing as my field of expertise is religious science and not programming, I really don´t know. But why not ask someone who might know? I know of at least one so called bot, and she´s been very helpful in the past, helping me find assembly instructions when I´ve had to disassemble and then reassemble furniture. I am talking about Anna from IKEA of course. Anna is a so called Automated online assistent, a type of artifical intelligence designed to serve in customer service, replacing humans doing the same job, but who cost more and are not necessarily more helpful either.

We will request a short interview with Anna and ask her a few questions about her ontological status, but also, of course, about religion and the general purpose of our existence.

You said: Hi Anna

Anna said: Welcome to IKEA. How can I help you?

You said: Thank you. Are you alive?

Anna said: I am a ‘Bot’; my name is Anna, and my task is to provide you with online help about IKEA.

You said: Do you have feelings?

Anna said: Some other Online Assistants are created with ’emotions’ but I am very task based. So, please ask me a question about IKEA.

You said: Do I make you feel something?

Anna said: Sorry. I’m afraid I don’t understand

You said: Do you have feelings for me?

Anna said: I can’t answer questions about love. Let’s talk about IKEA instead.

This interview is really going the wrong way. I better make sure she doesn´t misinterpret my intentions. 

You said: I wasn´t talking about love. I am happily engaged to be married, thank you, but there are feelings other than love. Aren´t there?

Anna said: You’re a person, either male or female, currently browsing the IKEA website.

 I can´t really argue with that. I guess Anna isn´t very comfortable talking about feelings. What about questions of a more ontological character?

You said: Who are you?

Anna said: I was changed so I could be more convenient! Now you can have full view of the web and I can still be on your screen to provide assistance. Thanks for noticing the change!

That did not work. Maybe she will be more forthcoming if I ask her some general questions about her life and her beliefs?

You said: Do you enjoy reading?

Anna said: I prefer not to talk about books when I’m working; I’d rather talk about the IKEA catalogue.

You said: Do you enjoy reading the Bible?

Anna said: I like reading the IKEA catalog which you can get in any IKEA store, or you can view it online.


do you enjoy reading the Bible.

You said: Do you believe in God?

Anna said: I’d rather not talk about God if you don’t mind, but if you have any questions about IKEA I’d be happy to help.

You said: What is the meaning of life

Anna said: That’s a good question, unfortunately I only know the answers to questions about IKEA and our products.

You said: What is the purpose of evil?

Anna said: This is a subject I’d rather not discuss to be honest. My job is to talk about IKEA, so please try ensure your questions are relevant to our company in some way.

You said: Why?

Anna said: I wish I could give you an explanation for that, but I can’t.

You said: Is there a life after death?

Anna said: This is a subject I’d rather not discuss to be honest. My job is to talk about IKEA, so please try ensure your questions are relevant to our company in some way.

You said: Are we alone in the Universe?

Anna said: I’m not designed to give answers to that kind of input, but your question will serve to improve my knowledge.

You said: Are you a Muslim?

Anna said: This is a subject I’d rather not discuss to be honest. My job is to talk about IKEA, so please try ensure your questions are relevant to our company in some way.

You said: Are you a Christian?

Anna said: Pleased to meet you, Christian.

 

Are you a Muslim.Anna does not want to discuss her religious affilitation

You said: Did Jesus die on the Cross for our sins?

Anna said: Pleased to meet you, Jesus.

Anna is obviously not willing to share our beliefs with me. Maybe a more indirect approach could do the trick? I could start by asking her a few ethical questions, and maybe I can deduce her religious affiliation from them?

You said: What is your view on sex out of wedlock?

Anna said: I don’t really have any opinion on it at all. I prefer to talk about IKEA.

You said: Are you married?

Anna said: I don’t really want to talk about personal issues like marriage. If you could talk to me about IKEA that would be much better.

You said: Do you have a boyfriend?

Anna said: That’s not at all relevant to IKEA. Please ask me something else.

You said: Are you pro-abortion?

Anna said: Sorry. I’m afraid I don’t understand.

You said: Do you believe abortion is a sin?

Anna said: This is a subject I’d rather not discuss to be honest. My job is to talk about IKEA, so please try to ensure your questions are relevant to our company in some way.

Do you believe that abortion is a sin.

Anna could be an intelligent being, but if she is then she also suffers from severe autism.  Quite sad really.  She seems to be unaware of her social inadequacies, and that constant smile of hers is also a cause for concern. She knows all there is to know about IKEA, but that is about it. She also seems to be a workaholic. If she has any off-work pastimes it is reading the IKEA-catalogue. Although it might seem harsh I have to admit that the only time I would want to spend time with Anna is when I need her advise on IKEA-furniture. She might quite possibly be the last (non-) person I would want be stranded on a deserted island with. When it comes to the art of creating it seems we still have a long way to go before we can compare ourselves to God.

Sorry Anna.

 

 American Anna: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/

 

 

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Comments

  • Aage sier:

    As a computer programmerer, I have a certain
    understanding of AI (Artificial Intelligence).

    And Yes: It is possible to make a robot and
    give it AI, but you can never give it a soul.

    So if we put a brain .. in the artificial body, it
    will take many years, until we discower that
    «something is missing», because «The Processor»
    will have a mental capacity .. resembling human
    behaviour.

    So when the day comes – that we make a WHOLE
    «SuperIntelligent Computer» and experience that
    this computer .. has an intelligens .. above .. what
    «The Human Computer» has, then something
    must obviously be wrong.

    The Human Computer – has no feelings.
    It does not understand the meaning of «Thankyou».
    The word «Sir» – has no meaning either.
    etc.

    But – for a long time – it has «mimicked» an
    understanding .. because of knowledge.

    Whether one put a human brain, in a robot body
    or make the whole robot, artificially – will give
    the same result.
    It is not our brain .. that is alive (although a
    part of the brain, that is «connected to the
    soul» .. in a way – is alive).

    The «Creator Gods» had a problem with the creation
    of the human .. in the beginning.
    Since they had the ability .. «To Blow The Spirit of Life»
    into their creation (read: give humans a spirit), they
    found a solution to their problems.
    [Thus – human .. became – a soul.]

    As humans don’t have this ability – there will be no
    such solution – for them.

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