One of the main aspects of today’s living is the fact that, as time goes on, more and more people grow increasingly concerned about the possibility for robots (endowed with artificial intelligence) to eventually replace humans, as the next step of evolution. There is, however, much of a controversy to the issue in question – whereas, some social scientists consider the mentioned prospect thoroughly plausible, others believe that there are no objective preconditions to expect that the exponential progress in the field of IT will eventually deem the representatives of Homo Sapiens species ‘outdated’.
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The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated, in regards to the 2004 article Twenty-First Century – The Beginning of Human Immortality by Alexander Bolonkin and the 2003 article Artificial Intelligence and the Future by William Clocksin. The reason for this is that these articles provide the conceptually incompatible outlooks on what artificial intelligence (AI) really is, and on what account for the qualitative aspects of its functioning. This, of course, implies that the reading of both articles is a must for just about anyone, who strives to form its own logically substantiated opinion, regarding the hypothetical prospect at stake.
The main idea, promoted throughout the entirety of Bolonkin’s article, is that the very laws of evolution presuppose the process of people growing increasingly less ‘biological’, which in turn suggests that one day; it will indeed become possible saving one’s consciousness (soul) onto the computer’s hard-drive – hence, allowing humans to attain immortality. Moreover, it will also result in the creation of the so-called ‘e-creatures’, who will have very little to do with the former ways of humanity.
As the author pointed out: “E-creatures will be made of super strong steels and alloys, their brain will be working on radioactive batteries, and power will be supplied by compact nuclear reactors, they will not need air, warmth, water, food, clothes, shelter…” (Bolonkin 1540). This idea, however, appears utterly inconsistent with the line of argumentation (as to the prospects of AI), contained in Clocksin’s article. According to the author, one’s intelligence is not being solely concerned with the processing of data in the algorithmic manner, as it happened to be the case with AI – it reflects the varying ability of the concerned individual to properly react to the externally induced stimuli.
As Clocksin noted: “The architecture of animal brains… (is) quite different from the digital computer: a densely interconnected network having comparatively low transmission rate exhibiting alarmingly high levels of stochasticity” (1726). What it means is that, in order for a particular neurological system to be considered intelligent, it must be thoroughly interconnected with the surrounding natural environment. In other words, people’s intelligence cannot be discussed outside of their endowment with physical bodies, which implies that the creation of ‘non-physical’ but intelligent robots will prove impossible. Thus, there is indeed a good reason to refer to the mentioned articles as being discursively incompatible.
Both of the reviewed articles also differ, in regards to what appear to be the main rhetorical devices, deployed by the authors. For example, while presenting readers with his line of argumentation, Bolonkin mainly relies on the so-called ‘appeal to pathos’ – hence, the sheer emotional intensity of how he describes the ways of the ‘robotized’ future: “E-creatures will be able to travel freely in the desert, the Arctic and the Antarctic regions, sub-atmosphere, mountain summits, the bottom of the ocean” (1541).
Clocksin, on the other hand, strives to appeal to the readers’ sense of ‘logos’, while arguing that there can be no ‘revolution of robots’, by definition, since there will be no need for them to compete with humans, in the first place. In its turn, this implies that Clocksin’s article is primarily meant to appeal to the analytically minded individuals, who do not allow their emotions to define the ways of how they perceive the surrounding reality.
It appears that the main reason why Bolonkin decided to proceed with writing his article, is that he happened to be fascinated with the very idea of ‘trans-humanism’, according to which, it will be thoroughly natural for humans to be eventually turned into robots. This explains why there is the strongly defined propagandistic spirit to Twenty-First Century – The Beginning of Human Immortality – as if the author was the least concerned with ensuring the scientific validity of his line of argumentation. The article’s main purpose is to popularize the notion of ‘robotic immortality’ among as many people, as possible. The same cannot be said about Clocksin’s article – it is there to enlighten readers on a wide array of conceptual approaches to AI, regardless of whether they correlate with that of the author’s own or not.
There can be indeed only a few doubts that the reading of both articles did increase my understanding of the topic. In the aftermath of having read them, I learned that:
- In the future, the ongoing technological progress will allow people to take full advantage of their existential potential.
- As time goes on, the robotics-technologies will be helping more and more individuals to enhance their lives to the extent that their ancestors could only dream of.
- There is no much rationale in expecting the ‘uprising of robots’, simply because there are no objective prerequisites for AI to begin functioning in the same manner, as it happened to be the case with human brain.
- As of today, there are no even any theoretical ideas, as to how AI could adopt the subtleties of ‘humanness’, as it is often being portrayed in the sci-fi movies.
It is understood, of course, that both of the reviewed articles can be well used, when it comes down to either promoting the concept of ‘trans-humanism’, as such that has been predetermined to emerge by the very laws of history, or exposing this suggestion, as such that does not hold much water. For example, the reading of Bolonkin’s article would do well for those who, due to being utterly religious, prefer to live in the state of a perceptual arrogance – especially when the technology-related issues are being concerned. Alternatively, the exposure to Clocksin’s article should prove beneficial to those individuals who seriously believe that it will be eventually possible to for one’s consciousness to be ‘freed’ of its biological carrier (body), without ceasing to remain thoroughly conscious, in the conventional sense of this word.
The main conclusion, in respect to what has been said earlier, can be formulated as follows: Even though human societies will indeed continue becoming increasingly ‘robotized’ in the future, the idea that AI can ever surpass human brain, in the sense of how it defines the interrelationship between causes and effects, does not stand any ground. Apparently, those who promote the ideas of ‘trans-humanism’, are not being aware of the simple fact that the notion of ‘intelligence’ is much more related to the notion of ‘interactivity’ than to the notion of ‘calculation’.
The most easily notable unresolved question, in this regard, can be well identified the fact that, even though there is no any immediate danger for humanity to be taken over by robots, this possibility cannot be referred to as being 100% implausible – especially if one was to assess it through the lenses of the concept of cyborgization.
- The most difficult aspect of doing research for this essay had to do with the fact that, due to the discussed subject matter having been popularized by the sci-fi films, it proved somewhat difficult for me reflecting upon it from the culturally unbiased perspective.
- I am very confident in my sources, because they clearly belong to the category of the scholarly ones.
- Before I began to work on this paper, I identified what can be considered the researched topic’s qualitative aspects.
- I did not need to redirect my efforts at any point, because throughout the course of the research-process, I remained well focused on probing the discussed issue’s conceptual essence.
- I think that it is specifically subjecting the concerned topic to an analytical inquiry, which will require the most work.
- My biggest takeaway from this assignment can be well deemed the fact that, in the aftermath of having completed it, I gained a number of in-depth insights into what may account for the ways of humanity in the future.
Bolonkin, Alexander. “Twenty-First Century – The Beginning of Human Immortality.” Kybernetes 33.9/10 (2004): 1535-1542. Print.
Clocksin, William. “Artificial Intelligence and the Future.” Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 361.1809 (2003): 1721-1748. Print.