Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Kinds of AI

Poul Anderson considered every possibility.

(i) Starfarers argues that computers cannot become artificial intelligences (AI's).

(ii) "Quixote And The Windmill" presents an unemployed robot. (I assume here that a robot's brain is a mobile AI.)

(iii) A Circus Of Hells presents an isolated conscious computer keeping its sanity by playing games.

(iv) The Harvest Of Stars tetralogy presents superior AI's interacting with humanity.

(v) Genesis presents superior post-human AI's interacting with each other and with re-created humanity.

(vi) In (iv), (v) and The Boat Of A Million Years, AI applications include conscious simulations of human beings.

(vii) The Avatar presents artificially enhanced intelligence: the consciousness, intuition and flexibility of a human brain linked by electromagnetic induction to the data storage capacity and calculating rapidity of a computer so that the brain, directly sensing the data, continually rewrites the program. A level of consciousness that might exist inside superior AI's here exists inside human brains, computer enhanced.

This list is comprehensive, giving the impression of leaving nothing out. Similar lists could be compiled for the treatment of other themes in Anderson's works. In fact, this AI list refers to five of his eight future histories, according to my reckoning of them.

I agree with the Starfarers argument. Computers are unconscious, are not organisms and simulate but do not duplicate brain functions. However, if artificial brains can be constructed, then, by definition, they will be conscious.

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