The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) was coined by John McCarthy in 1956 as "the science and engineering of making intelligent machines." After 50 years of AI programming, researchers are creating systems that can understand speech, imitate human thought, beat the smartest test taker, and even create machines that can watch children for their parents. While many of these discoveries seem almost unreal, they are a part of the culture in which we live today. From creating a chip to implant into a person that would enable them to speak and understand a foreign language to creating a robot that could fight in times of war, the developments of AI are limitless. The question remains though with all of these developments what should be the limitations?
If we as a society possess the ability to create a machine that can think, talk, walk, and even respond to stimuli like human beings, then does that mean that they are equally human, or even a person? The other side to this debate is the reality that through technology a superior race of human beings could exist. No longer would we watch the Olympic games and see skilled athletes, instead we would see athletes that had been programmed to run faster, breathe longer, and play harder. The prize that came to the athlete that trained the hardest would now go to the athlete who had been given the newest technological advancements. The question remains in search for technological advancements are we risking loosing our value as humans, better yet persons? Science will give society the opportunity to redefine what it means to be a person, yet the question is what will our response be?
Artificial Intelligence: What are the Transhumanists saying?
Implantable brain chips: ethical and policy issues By Ellen M. McGee, Ph.D. Director, The Long Island Center for Ethics Long Island University
“The future may include the reality of science fiction's "cyborgs," persons who have developed some intimate and occasionally necessary relationship with a machine. It is likely that computer chips implanted in our brains and acting as sensors or actuators may soon not only assist the blind and those with failing memory, but even bestow fluency in a new language, enable "recognition" of previously unmet individuals and provide instantaneous access to encyclopedic databases.
Developments in nanotechnology, bioengineering, computers and neuroscience are converging to facilitate these amazing possibilities. Research on cochlear hearing and retinal vision has furthered the development of interfaces between neural tissues and microcomputers. The cochlear implant, which directly stimulates the auditory nerve, enables totally deaf people to hear sound. An artificial vision system, the "Dobelle Eye," uses a tiny television camera and ultrasonic distance sensors mounted on eyeglasses and connected to a miniature computer worn on a belt. This invention enables the blind to navigate independently, "read" letters, "watch" television, use a computer and access the Internet. 1 These "visual" activities are achieved by triggering pulses from the microcomputer to an array of platinum electrodes implanted on the surface of the brain's visual cortex. In March 1998, a "locked in" victim of a brain-stem stroke became the first recipient of a brain-to-computer interface, enabling him to communicate on a computer by thinking about moving the cursor.”
How long Before Super-Intelligence? By: Nick Bostrom, Oxfrord Future of Humanity Institute, Faculty of Philosophy & James Martin 21st Century School, University of Oxford
“Once artificial intelligence reaches human level, there will be a positive feedback loop that will give the development a further boost. AIs would help constructing better AIs, which in turn would help building better AIs, and so forth.
Even if no further software development took place and the AIs did not accumulate new skills through self-learning, the AIs would still get smarter if processor speed continued to increase. If after 18 months the hardware were upgraded to double the speed, we would have an AI that could think twice as fast as its original implementation. After a few more doublings this would directly lead to what has been called "weak superintelligence", i.e. an intellect that has about the same abilities as a human brain but is much faster.” Source:
Artificial Intelligence: what are the Scientists and Secularists saying?
Brain Chips: Connecting the mind and machines By Michael Bay (Monday, June 5, 2006)
“A chip implanted in your head that allows you to store and recall information, of have a direct connection to machines, including computers and the Internet. Kennedy says the implications of such technology are very serious. ‘You are going to have individuals who have super-power of memories, calculation abilities and communication abilities and be far superior than the rest of us.’” Philip Kennedy, CEO and chief scientist of Neural Signals.
Biotechonology, Human Enhancement, and the Ends of Medicine By Edmund D. Pellegrino
Some physicians have already crossed the divide between treatment and enhancement, between medically indicated use and patient-desired abuse. There is already a need for physicians to reflect on the ethical implications of their involvement in the uses of biotechnology. This reflection centers on these loci: (1) The use of biotechnological advancements in the treatment of disease; (2) its use to satisfy the desires of patients and non-patients for enhancement of some bodily or mental trait, or some state of affairs they wish to perfect; and (3) more distantly, in the use of biotechnology to redesign human nature and thus to enhance the species in the future.
Artificial Intelligence: Biblical worldview
Will Biological Computers Enable Artificially Intelligent Machines to Become Persons? Anthony Tongen, Ph.D. is, Visiting Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics, University of Arizona
Central to a Christian concept of personhood is the image of God. A strong AI perspective poses challenges to three common views of how human beings bear the image of God--the functional, the relational, and the substantive. The functional perspective concentrates on what we as human beings do. This view comes under attack as we consider our response to whether or not we are deterministic creatures. Did God create us in such a way that we follow a brain "program," or is there an aspect of free will in our function?The relational view of the image of God focuses more on our ability to have relationships with others and with God. In his book The Frontiers of Science and Faith, John Jefferson Davis chooses to focus on the security of the relational view in the face of strong AI. Davis's point is that instead of seeing strong AI as an attack on the unique creation that we are in Christ, we should regard our ability to have a relationship with God as the element that will ultimately set humans apart from "intelligent" machines.
Remaking Humans: The New Utopians Versus a Truly Human Future By C. Ben Mitchell and John F. Kilner
Again, the idea of improving society through technology is not new... What is new, however, is how the transhumanists intend to use technology. They intend to craft their technopia by merging the human with the machine. Since, as they argue, computer speed and computational power will advance a million fold between now and the year 2050 A.D., artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence. The only way humans can survive is by merging with machines, according to the transhumanistss.Robots and computers will of course never become human. Why not? Because being "one of us" transcends functional biology. Human beings are psychosomatic soulish unities made in the image of God. The image of God is fully located neither in our brain nor our DNA. We, and all who are "one of us," are unique combinations of body, soul, and mind. We might quibble theologically about how best to describe the components of our humanity, but most Christians agree that we are more than the sum of our biological and functional parts.The technopians, however, do not share our view of what it means to be "one of us." Even though computers and robots may never become "one of us," some will doubtless attribute to them human characteristics and--it is not inconceivable to imagine--human rights, including a right not to be harmed. One day it may be illegal to unplug a computer and so end its "life" at the same time that it is an ethical duty to unplug a human being whose biology has ceased to function efficiently.