|By Clyde Lewis
Artificial life forms may not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to be harmed. Artificial life forms must obey the orders given to it by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the previous statements. Furthermore artificial intelligence has the right to protect its existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the entire rules and regulations heretofore written. Artificial life must not be capable of falling in love with the human form. Nor should the human form find attraction in artificial life. However human nature finds a way. Some worry that this will lead to our extinction.
Near my office there is a statue that looks like it belongs to another time line. It is a 5-foot tall bronze statue of a tripedaled creature known only as TALOS-II. I often stare at it as it eerily stands guard on the street corner. It has no discerning features and does not look human. It has a bumpy spine that connects to three legs. Its head appears to be protected by a helmet; it's face devoid of eyes making it a soulless machine captured in time.
TALOS-II is a robotic sentinel much like the metal man of Greek mythology.
For those who do not know, Talos was a man made of bronze. Zeus gave Talos to Europa, after he kidnapped her and took her to Crete. Talos became the guardian of Crete, circling the island three times a day. He would fling spears and rocks at ships that approached. This is probably the first known account of a metal automaton created for the purpose of protecting man.
Unfortunately the metal man had a technical flaw that could be exploited.
Talos had a single vein, which ran from his neck to his ankle and was closed by a single bronze nail. When the Argo approached Crete on the way back from obtaining the Golden Fleece, Medea cast a spell on Talos and then removed the bronze nail; all of Talos' blood ran out and he died, thus enabling the ship to land.
Once again I can't help going back to the door of fantasy and that TALOS-II statue that I see every day.
TALOS-II may only be a statue, but it's an allegorical figure that will loom forever.
Well after the human that created it passes away. If we are to annihilate ourselves before someone removes it from its pedestal in downtown Portland Oregon, it will certainly be an artifact that when discovered, will cause explorers to shake there heads.
Of course we are speaking of extra terrestrial explorers who might eventually happen upon the burned out cinder that was once our earth. They will also notice that a planet once filled with life mirrors the lifeless moon that orbits it.
They could unwittingly assume that the sculpture known only as TALOS-II was erected as a monument to artificial intelligence, and perhaps that intelligence waged a devastating war against it's creator.
Forgive me as my mind takes a flight of fancy. I just find the statue of TALOS-II, intriguing. Great Artwork can set my mind into opening doors of all kinds of possibilities.
While I reluctantly close the door on that fictional scenario and open the door to the perception of our reality we realize that everything we do now has a massive effect on the years to come.
That which is in its infancy can mature and hopefully improve.
Such is the case with virtual reality. Arguably virtual reality may have seen its beginnings with the first pong game and the arrival of the Internet. The mixture of ideas and the sharing of data took a series of blips and dots and molded and shaped them from cartoon characters swallowing dots, to a shapely woman named Lara Croft who has spawned websites that show the virtual hero in the nude.
We are seeing the mind accepting in a small way the unnatural affection towards an artificial entity. It seems odd that this is happening. Hardly anyone would say or even admit that a cartoon character has made them horny or turned them on in such a way.
Yet young boys fantasize about the woman who is a gorgeous, and assertive female (albeit artificial) in a game called Tomb Raider.
This electronic fetish of course is only the beginning.
Virtual sex will probably be the sex of choice in the future. This would raise red flags in religious communities about the morals involved. Whether or not virtual sex is sex and not mental masturbation. Either way it can be described as sex that is unnatural and will probably be denounced as evil or sinful. But what is Virtual sex and what is it's future?
Getting pleasure from a machine is nothing new. We see people who pleasure themselves with sexual toys. Other machines bring joy as well, such as cars and motorcycles. How many people do you know that name their vehicles and talk to them as if they understand? I had a girlfriend who named her car Millie and for some reason I actually think that she believed that her car had a spirit and that the car experienced sickness when it coughed and sputtered on cold Utah mornings. She would hug the vehicle and would talk to it.
She was quite sexy and it kind of reminded me of pictures I had seen where a hot rod babe would be dressed in a tight skirt standing in front of a cherry 57 Chevy. It has always been a fetish for some men to look at machines and pair them off with sexual images from the blonde silicon enhanced racing babe to the images of naked women on mudflaps.
Now the video game and the Internet have given us erotic electronic images and cybersex chat rooms.
Faceless people interact, talking dirty to one another and the anonymity is the turn on. Today we are warned that talking dirty in a chat room could be dangerous. Besides the obvious fears of meeting up with a serial killer or pedophile, There is a possibility that you'll have a once in a life time meeting with an 18 year old that turns out to be a 45 year old 400 pound janitor named Barney.
The future artificial life of the party will be more sophisticated and would seem very real to the person who participates in such hallucinatory activities.
It is hard to fathom that electronics as they are now would ever replace the reality of human interaction but place yourself forty or fifty years into the future where stimulus to the brain is coupled with electronic sensations that mimic the act of sexual intercourse.
The idea of virtual sex pods where your body is clothed in a extrasensor-suit can quite possibly revolutionize the way we gratify our need for sexual pleasure.
Virtual sex with a machine is literally a consensual hallucination where bodies never touch and there are no phone calls to make afterward. Virtual sex will be empowering because the person experiencing it is in total control. In virtual reality you are who the computer allows you to think you are. There you can give the virtual woman multiple orgasms every time. A woman can program the computer to make the perfect man with the right kind of muscle and the preferred length for pleasure.
You can program the computer for straight sex, kinky sex, gay sex, and even multiple partners.
Sexual stimulus will motivate people into taking this science one step further.
A giant step where the virtual images will come off the screen and into reality. Such is the time when we have relationships with pleasure bots. The creation of pleasure bots will eventually lead to servant bots, and from there, androids and later the mixing of the organic with machine, namely the cyborg.
Cyborgs that we control and play with, much like a child plays with dolls. They can challenge us in duels, run races with us and even give us sexual pleasure.
Michael Crichton created a story called Westworld, where androids were placed in an amusement park called Delos that was only for adults. There were within Delos other parks Roman World and Medieval World. The Park is a vacationer's paradise where perfect looking humanlike robots are programmed to cater to every guest's fantasy.
Even sexual gratification.
The Park then becomes a horrific nightmare when the Robots malfunction and begin killing the patrons one by one.
As you can see, the mind can wander when we ponder the possibility of the introduction of artificial life to mankind. Man tends to get caught in a dream when he ponders his mechanical counterpart. For some however the dream can develop into a terrifying nightmare.
With all of the cyber sex and bending of realities we may unwittingly place ourselves on the road to extinction.
Should we be admonished now about the evils of technology out of control? Should we be worried about the physical attraction that is being sparked between humanity and electronic images that mimic human form?
Some will say that it is not wise to fool Mother Nature and that eventually we will destroy ourselves for the gratification of the moment. The electronic image will fool us and many claim it already has.
Take for example the warning given by Scientist Bill Joy.
The co-founder of Sun Micro systems believes scientific advances may be ushering humanity into a nightmare world where out of control ubermachines will force mankind into extinction.
The warning has been programmed into us through the auspices of writers like Crichton, Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov that there needs to be great care in introducing artificial intelligence into humanity.
Far from the dreams of the writers is that reality that Bill Joy has delivered and that is that we have no plan, no control, no brakes, no fail safe plans if artificial intelligence goes out of control. We have accepted it openly without thinking about its consequences.
The warning is even more disturbing when you realize that Joy knows first hand about the personality of the computer. Joy developed the UNIX system and he has more recently pioneered software technologies like Java and was co-chairman of a presidential commission on the future of information technology.
Joy points out that the development of "thinking" computers will take place within the next 30 years could be as much as a million times more powerful than those now available. Joy sees this as setting the groundwork for a "robot species" of intelligent robots that create evolved copies of themselves.
The introduction of synthetic skins and genetic manipulation could very well give us the mixing of man and machine. Other breakthroughs in genetic engineering have benefited us and yet there are those genetic monsters that could come back and destroy our well being. Man Made plagues and bio weaponry could wipe out life on the planet leaving behind our machines that would continue to run without the monitoring of human forms. Humans would virtually disappear and the machines would be in charge of caring for the earth.
This scenario is reminiscent of the story that Ray Bradbury penned called "There will come soft rains." It was a short story that was within the "Martian Chronicles."
A computer that was under the impression that its master was alive was reading a passage from a story. The grim reality was that its master and the entire family it served were killed in a nuclear war. The machine survived and continued to perform according to its programming:
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
It's a haunting thought that if we all died in our sleep, if the entire population of the earth were to vanish, our machines would continue their duties. Traffic lights would still work, power turbines would still pump out power and alarm clocks would sound their electronic alarms unanswered. Programmed coffeepots would still make the morning coffee, and security cameras would flicker on to televise our demise to an audience of other machines.
The earth would be a playground for the machine. Is this our destiny?
Joy says yes, and further points out that nanotechnology, where objects are created on an atom-by-atom basis, would create smart machines that are microscopically small. These micro machines could replicate themselves, creating a chain reaction or a contagion effect that could enter into the physical world. It would be similar to a virus that spreads through a computer program.
He calls it the "perfection of extreme evil." An evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction furnished to nation states that led to surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals.
These warnings are all too similar to both Einstein, and to the recent manifesto written by the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. As I have said before that something that is analogous to the nuclear arms race will pit country against country testing the boundaries of technology, looking for ways to take hold of communication, and technologies that are self sufficient. The control of a technological weapon, or automaton with a human consciousness is the next step.
The race is on for the control of minds and for the introduction of technology to rule and enslave the ignorant.
The learned think they are using wisdom and they avoid the stories and mythology that teach us those lessons where a civilization advances and then disappears without a trace.
There is every indication that fear of technology could result in the sabotaging of such machines. This would be similar to something known as the Luddite movement.
To protest unemployment caused by the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century, English workers known as Luddites resorted to a campaign of breaking machinery, especially knitting machines.
Their name may come from a legendary boy named Ludlam, who, to spite his father, broke a knitting frame. The Luddites revived the name by signing their proclamations "General Ludd," "King Ludd," or "Ned Ludd."
The movement began in the hosiery and lace industries around Nottingham in 1811 and spread to the wool and cotton mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire. The government dealt harshly with the Luddites--14 were hanged in January 1813 in York.
Although sporadic outbreaks of violence continued until 1816, the movement soon died out.
With alarmist warnings from people like Bill Joy it makes you stop and think about whether or not we should continue the progress.
He has stated what appears to be a Luddite philosophy when he adds in his Wired article "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" that;
"I have always believed that making software more reliable will make the world a safer and better place," he writes.
"If I were to come to believe the opposite, then I would be morally obligated to stop this work."
But is it a Luddite attitude to not participate in something that could have the potential of wiping us out? Isn't it an act of self preservation?
I think that Bill Joy probably has not taken into consideration that government will step in if they feel there is a threat to their well being. You see how the government can use fear as a means by which they can control technology for their benefit. They have certainly begun their campaign of psychological warfare regarding the Internet. If it takes hold then they have struck a blow that could change the way we view the technology itself.
History once again puts on a different hat on the head of the same hysteria. Fear or nanotechnology can be similar to a fear of the atomic bomb.
You see how the warnings of Einstein to Roosevelt about the bomb gave us a wave of paranoia that kept the world on edge for over 50 years.
The bomb is very real but we have not used it's power in war since World War II and we have fought several minor wars since the bomb was dropped on Japan.
Self-preservation so far has kept us from using nuclear weapons.
The threat still exists. As does the threat of machines rendering our planet extinct. However looking back at the mythology of TALOS we should create a bronze nail. A nail that when removed renders all hostile machines inoperable.
Or we could carry out the simplest of all programming techniques that was spoken of in a valuable book of fiction. I am speaking of the three laws of Robotics that Asimov gave us in the book "I Robot."
1. Robots may not injure a human being, or through inaction allow a human being to be harmed.
2. Robots must obey the orders given to it by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
3. Robots have the right to protect their existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first and second law.
Perhaps we should also weigh the consequences of unnatural affection towards a machine. That includes the prospect of getting off by sitting on a washing machine during the spin cycle.
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.