Robots Should Be Citizens
AI of modern day has infiltrated almost every aspect of everyday life. A person living in a first world country can not go more than a day without using a form of AI to improve their quality of life. Everything from shopping online, smart devices in the home, and even GPS are all employing some sort of artificial intelligence. Because it is a part of almost everyone’s daily life, it is natural to believe that these artificial intelligence systems are conscious and independently thinking. In this essay I will be discussing the difference between consciousness and intelligence, which is crucial when it comes to the idea of independence and autonomy. In addition, modern AI is used more as a tool or piece of equipment, which means it does not need human rights in its current state. Artificial intelligence does not truly learn ideas, it more accurately just has an ability to recognize patterns. All these points lead to the conclusion that the modern state of artificial intelligence does not need human rights, however, soon that could change.
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What is intelligence? What is the difference between consciousness and intelligence? Intelligence is much easier to define than consciousness because it is more task-oriented, there are three conditions that need to be met for something to be considered intelligence, that is, it can perform a task, do it unsupervised, and can recursively improve. Recursive improvement simply means that after doing a task multiple times will it improve in its ability of said task (The Drum). What this means is that yes, AI intelligence is in fact believed to be super intelligent, due to the fact of how quickly a computer can learn a task and improve on it. However, following these rules of what intelligence is, many animals are also considered intelligent. Consider an elephant – it is believed to be one of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom, being able to perform high level tasks such as paint. However, we do not give them human rights for one simple reason – as far as we are aware, they are not conscious (Meyer). So, what is consciousness? People tend to think consciousness as a confusing moral question. However, the most scientific explanation we have for consciousness is “the state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings.” Artificial intelligence, no matter how smart it is, is not aware of its situation. It simply is given a problem or a situation and is tasked with figuring out how to solve the problem. There is absolutely no free thought when it comes to an artificial intelligence. For the same reason we do not give intelligent animals human rights, we do not give Artificial intelligence human rights.
What is the role of AI in modern day society? As of the 21st century AI is being used and more importantly being developed to be a tool to augment humanity, not rival it. So far AI has reached almost all aspects of human society from economics, to agriculture, and technology (Pg. 2 Dennehy). The best example of this is the stock market once filled with stock brokers is now all AI machines, trading with other AI systems to maximize profits for companies. The reason AI development is more focused on augmenting humans instead of trying to surpass their level of intelligence is simple, it is not cost effective to try and create a general intelligence. Economics now leads to AIs being built for specific purposes such as driving a car or playing chess. Once an AI is out of its specific zone of intelligence it is nearly useless. A general intelligence is what people think of when they consider human level intelligence (Heath). An example of a general intelligence would be something like the HAL 9000 from the film “2001 A Space Odyssey” directed by Stanley Kubrick. Currently, Computer intelligence is not anywhere close to that level of intelligence. The development needed to get intelligence that advanced will take another twenty to thirty years. The reason that Specific intelligence is being chosen instead of general intelligence is due to many factors, mainly being that general intelligence is far too complicated for one company to take on. General intelligence is mainly being developed in academic fields. However, specific intelligences can be developed by almost any company that is looking to save money. A specific AI can save a company money by replacing a human job with a computer, which costs only the amount of electricity it uses, comparatively to a human needing a salary. However, that is a topic for another issue (CGP Grey). Specific Artificial intelligence is the current trend when it comes to robotics and artificial intelligence, and these specific AI do not have any of the capacity of a human therefore they do not need human level rights. However, this could change relatively soon.
In a more technical sense, once a person understands how an Artificial Intelligence learns, it becomes clear as to how different current AI is to human intelligence. The first concept that needs to be understood is that AI is an umbrella term that refers to machines being able to learn. More specifically an AI uses what is known as machine learning to form its intelligence (Quora). An example that is used to teach AI to beginners is to create a system that when given a hand-written number, can report what number is being shown. An AI is given a bunch of hand-written numbers and their correct corresponding number. Then simply the machine guesses, if the machine guesses correct certain neurons inside the AI’s code are strengthened. If it guesses wrong the neurons it used to guess are weakened (CGP Grey). Once the machine is given enough test information it will be able to guess correctly without the given correct answers. The whole process is like how a human brain works but at a miniscule scale comparatively. A human brain has around one-hundred billion neurons (The Human Memory). An artificial intelligence used in the example previously stated has around one-thousand. Once demystified it is clear as to why an AI should not be given human rights. Although with advancements on the horizon what will happen when AI becomes as complex as the human brain?
As previously stated, AI in its current state should not have human level rights it is simply not complex enough. Soon, it is believed that AI will achieve human level intelligence, although that may seem far away it is believed to be only twenty to thirty years away. Once achieved scientist believe that general artificial machines will only have human level intelligence for a few moments before becoming far more intelligent than all of humanity. The reason scientists believe this is because AI can evolve much quicker than our biological selves; we take hundreds of thousands of years. An AI can evolve in milliseconds constantly getting smarter once it is aware that it can do so (Love, Dylan). This raises the question: why would we give human level rights to something that is millions of times smarter than an average human? It would be like trying to enforce ant level rights to a human. It would be completely disregarded. So, what are the solutions to this issue? Should an AI more advanced than a human be recognized as a legal person with human rights? This question is still being debated to this day, no one knows what this AI will look like or act like, so it is still entirely up for debate.
In conclusion, although AI is believed to be super intelligent due to how fast it can process data, it should not be allowed to have human level rights because AI does not have consciousness. As well, its main use currently is just a tool to help augment humanity. Finally, it has no intuition to learn anything outside of its programming. However, if technology keeps advancing there will need to be serious discussion of what kind of rights a being more intelligent than a human should have.
- “Should AI Have Human Rights?” The Drum, The JMS Group, www.thedrum.com/news/2017/06/27/should-ai-have-human-rights
- Meyer, Amelia. “Elephants Forever.” Elephant Evolution, 1 Jan. 1970, www.elephantsforever.co.za/elephant-intelligence.html.
- Dennehy, Michael. AI; A Progress Trap? Michael Dennehy, 2018, pp. 1–10, AI; A Progress Trap?
- Heath, Nick. “What Is Artificial General Intelligence?” ZDNet, ZDNet, 19 Jan. 2019, www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-artificial-general-intelligence/.
- Love, Dylan. “Stephen Hawking Is Worried About Artificial Intelligence Wiping Out Humanity.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 5 May 2014, www.businessinsider.com/stephen-hawking-on-artificial-intelligence-2014-5.
- Grey, CGP. “Humans Need Not Apply.” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Aug. 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU&t=1s.
- Grey, CGP. “How Machines Learn.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 Dec. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9OHn5ZF4Uo.
- “How Is AI Different from Machine Learning?” What Happens to the Planets When a Star Dies? – Quora, www.quora.com/How-is-AI-different-from-Machine-Learning.
- Memory Recall/Retrieval – Memory Processes – The Human Memory, www.human-memory.net/brain_neurons.html