Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fiction. Show all posts

Artificial Intelligence - Who Is Rudy Rucker?


Rudolf von Bitter (German: Rudolf von Bitter) Rucker (1946–) is an American novelist, mathematician, and computer scientist who is the great-great-great-grandson of philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831).

Rucker is most recognized for his sarcastic, mathematics-heavy science fiction, while having written in a variety of fictional and nonfictional genres.

His Ware tetralogy (1982–2000) is regarded as one of the cyberpunk literary movement's fundamental works.

Rucker graduated from Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1973.

He shifted from teaching mathematics in colleges in the US and Germany to teaching computer science at San José State University, where he ultimately became a professor before retiring in 2004.

Rucker has forty publications to his credit, including science fiction novels, short story collections, and nonfiction works.

His nonfiction works span the disciplines of mathematics, cognitive science, philosophy, and computer science, with topics such as the fourth dimension and the meaning of computation among them.

The popular mathematics book Infinity and the Mind: The Science and Philosophy of the Infinite (1982), which he wrote, is still in print at Princeton University Press.

Rucker established himself in the cyberpunk genre with the Ware series (Software 1982, Wetware 1988, Freeware 1997, and Realware 2000).

Since Dick's death in 1983, the famous American science fiction award has been handed out every year since Software received the inaugural Philip K. Dick Award.

Wetware was also awarded this prize in 1988, in a tie with Paul J. McAuley's Four Hundred Billion Stars.

The Ware Tetralogy, which Rucker has made accessible for free online as an e-book under a Creative Commons license, was reprinted in 2010 as a single volume.

Cobb Anderson, a retired roboticist who has fallen from favor for creating sentient robots with free agency, known as boppers, is the protagonist of the Ware series.

The boppers want to reward him by giving him immortality via mind uploading; unfortunately, this procedure requires the full annihilation of Cobb's brain, which the boppers do not consider necessary hardware.

In Wetware, a bopper named Berenice wants to impregnate Cobb's niece in order to produce a human-machine hybrid.

Humanity retaliates by unleashing a mold that kills boppers, but this chipmould thrives on the cladding that covers the boppers' exteriors, resulting in the creation of an organic-machine hybrid in the end.

Freeware is based on these lifeforms, which are now known as moldies and are generally detested by biological people.

This story also includes extraterrestrial intelligences, who in Realware provide superior technology and the power to change reality to different types of human and artificial entities.

The book Postsingular, published in 2007, was the first of Rucker's works to be distributed under a Creative Commons license.

The book, set in San Francisco, addresses the emergence of nanotechnology, first in a dystopian and later in a utopian scenario.

In the first section, a rogue engineer creates nants, which convert Earth into a virtual replica of itself, destroying the planet in the process, until a youngster is able to reverse their programming.

The narrative then goes on to depict orphids, a new kind of nanotechnology that allows people to become cognitively enhanced, hyperintelligent creatures.

Although the Ware tetralogy and Postsingular have been classified as cyberpunk books, Rucker's literature has been seen as difficult to label, since it combines hard science with humor, graphic sex, and constant drug use.

"Happily, Rucker himself has established a phrase to capture his unusual mix of commonplace reality and outraeous fantasy: transrealism," writes science fiction historian Rob Latham (Latham 2005, 4).

"Transrealism is not so much a form of SF as it is a sort of avant-garde literature," Rucker writes in "A Transrealist Manifesto," published in 1983.  (Rucker 1983, 7).

"This means writing SF about yourself, your friends, and your local surroundings, transmuted in some science-fictional fashion," he noted in a 2002 interview. Using actual life as a basis lends your writing a literary quality and keeps you from using clichés" (Brunsdale 2002, 48).

Rucker worked on the short story collection Transreal Cyberpunk with cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling, which was released in 2016.

Rucker chose to publish his book Nested Scrolls after suffering a brain hemorrhage in 2008.

It won the Emperor Norton Award for "amazing innovation and originality unconstrained by the constraints of petty reason" when it was published in 2011.

Million Mile Road Trip (2019), a science fiction book about a group of human and nonhuman characters on an intergalactic road trip, is his most recent work.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Digital Immortality; Nonhuman Rights and Personhood; Robot Ethic.

References & Further Reading:

Brunsdale, Mitzi. 2002. “PW talks with Rudy Rucker.” Publishers Weekly 249, no. 17 (April 29): 48.

Latham, Rob. 2005. “Long Live Gonzo: An Introduction to Rudy Rucker.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 16, no. 1 (Spring): 3–5.

Rucker, Rudy. 1983. “A Transrealist Manifesto.” The Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America 82 (Winter): 7–8.

Rucker, Rudy. 2007. “Postsingular.”

Rucker, Rudy. 2010. The Ware Tetralogy. Gaithersburg, MD: Prime Books, 2010.

Artificial Intelligence - Person of Interest(2011–2016), The CBS Sci-Fi Series


Between 2011 through 2016, the fictitious television program Person of Interest ran on CBS for five seasons.

Although the show's early episodes resembled a serial crime drama, the tale developed into a science fiction genre that probed ethical questions around artificial intelligence development.

The show's central concept revolves upon a monitoring system known as "The Machine," which was developed for the United States by millionaire Harold Finch, portrayed by Michael Emerson.

This technology was created largely to avoid terrorist acts, but it has evolved to the point where it can anticipate crimes before they happen.

However, owing to its architecture, it only discloses the "person of interest's" social security number, which might be either the victim or the offender.

Normally, each episode is centered on a single person of interest number that has been produced.

Although the ensemble increases in size over the seasons, Finch first employs ex-CIA agent John Reese, portrayed by Jim Caviezel, to assist him in investigating and preventing these atrocities.

Person of Interest is renowned for emphasizing and dramatizing ethical issues surrounding both the invention and deployment of artificial intelligence.

Season four, for example, delves deeply into how Finch constructed The Machine in the first place.

Finch took enormous pains to ensure that The Machine had the correct set of values before exposing it to actual data, as shown by flashbacks.

As Finch strove to get the settings just correct, viewers were able to see exactly what might go wrong.

In one flashback, The Machine altered its own programming before lying about it.

When these failures arise, Finch deletes the incorrect code, noting that The Machine will have unrivaled capabilities.

The Machine quickly responds by overriding its own deletion procedures and even attempting to murder Finch.

"I taught it how to think," Finch says as he reflects on the process.

All I have to do now is educate it how to be concerned." Finally, Finch is able to program The Machine successfully with the proper set of ideals, which includes the preservation of human life.

The interaction of numerous AI beings is a second key ethical subject that runs through seasons three through five.

In season three, Samaritan, a competing AI surveillance software, is built.

This system does not care about human life in the same way as The Machine does, and as a result, it causes enormous harm and turmoil in order to achieve its goals, which include sustaining the United States' national security and its own survival.

As a result of their differences, Samaritan and The Machine find themselves at odds.

The Machine finally beats Samaritan, despite the fact that the program implies that Samaritan is more powerful owing to the employment of newer technology.

This program was mainly a critical success; nevertheless, declining ratings led to its cancellation after just thirteen episodes in its fifth season.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Biometric Privacy and Security; Biometric Technology; Predictive Policing.

References & Further Reading:

McFarland, Melanie. 2016. “Person of Interest Comes to an End, but the Technology Central to the Story Will Keep Evolving.” Geek Wire, June 20, 2016.

Newitz, Annalee. 2016. “Person of Interest Remains One of the Smartest Shows about AI on Television.” Ars Technica, May 3, 2016.

Artificial Intelligence - Personhood And Nonhuman Rights.

Questions regarding the autonomy, culpability, and dispersed accountability of smart robots have sparked a popular and intellectual discussion over the idea of rights and personhood for artificial intelligences in recent decades.

The agency of intelligent computers in business and commerce is of importance to legal systems.

Machine awareness, dignity, and interests pique the interest of philosophers.

Personhood is in many respects a fabrication that emerges from normative views that are renegotiating, if not equalizing, the statuses of humans, artificial intelligences, animals, and other legal persons, as shown by issues relating to smart robots and AI.

Definitions and precedents from previous philosophical, legal, and ethical attempts to define human, corporate, and animal persons are often used in debates about electronic personhood.

In his 1909 book The Nature and Sources of Law, John Chipman Gray examined the concept of legal personality.

Gray points out that when people hear the word "person," they usually think of a human being; nevertheless, the technical, legal definition of the term "person" focuses more on legal rights.

According to Gray, the issue is whether an entity can be subject to legal rights and obligations, and the answer depends on the kind of entity being considered.

Gray, on the other hand, claims that a thing can only be a legal person if it has intellect and volition.

Charles Taylor demonstrates in his article "The Concept of a Person" (1985) that to be a person, one must have certain rights.

Per sonhood, as Gray and Taylor both recognize, is centered on legality in respect to having guaranteed freedoms.

Legal individuals may, for example, engage into contracts, purchase property, and be sued.

Legal people are likewise protected by the law and have certain rights, including the right to life.

Not all legal people are humans, and not all humans are persons in the perspective of the law.

Gray demonstrates how Roman temples and medieval churches were seen as individuals with certain rights.

Personhood is now conferred to companies and government entities under the law.

Despite the fact that these entities are not human, the law recognizes them as people, which means they have rights and are subject to certain legal obligations.

Alternatively, there is still a lot of discussion regarding whether human fetuses are legal persons.

Humans in a vegetative condition are likewise not recognized as having personhood under the law.

This personhood argument, which focuses on rights related to intellect and volition, has prompted concerns about whether intelligent animals should be awarded persons.

The Great Ape Project, for example, was created in 1993 to advocate for apes' rights, such as their release from captivity, protection of their right to life, and an end to animal research.

Marine animals were deemed potential humans in India in 2013, resulting in a prohibition on their custody.

Sandra, an orangutan, was granted the right to life and liberty by an Argentinian court in 2015.

Some individuals have sought personhood for androids or robots based on moral concerns for animals.

For some individuals, it is only natural that an android be given legal protections and rights.

Those who disagree think that we cannot see androids in the same light as animals since artificial intelligence was invented and engineered by humans.

In this perspective, androids are both machines and property.

At this stage, it's impossible to say if a robot may be considered a legal person.

However, since the defining elements of personhood often intersect with concerns of intellect and volition, the argument over whether artificial intelligence should be accorded personhood is fueled by these factors.

Personhood is often defined by two factors: rights and moral standing.

A person's moral standing is determined by whether or not they are seen as valuable and, as a result, treated as such.

However, Taylor goes on to define the category of person by focusing on certain abilities.

To be categorized as a per son, he believes, one must be able to recognize the difference between the future and the past.

A person must also be able to make decisions and establish a strategy for his or her future.

A person must have a set of values or morals in order to be considered a human.

In addition, a person's self-image or sense of identity would exist.

In light of these requirements, those who believe that androids might be accorded personality admit that these beings would need to possess certain capacities.

F. Patrick Hubbard, for example, believes that robots should only be accorded personality if they satisfy specific conditions.

These qualities include having a sense of self, having a life goal, and being able to communicate and think in sophisticated ways.

An alternative set of conditions for awarding personality to an android is proposed by David Lawrence.

For starters, he talks about AI having awareness, as well as the ability to comprehend information, learn, reason, and have subjectivity, among other things.

Although his concentration is on the ethical treatment of animals, Peter Singer offers a much simpler approach to personhood.

The distinguishing element of conferring personality, in his opinion, is suffering.

If anything can suffer, it should be treated the same regardless of whether it is a person, an animal, or a computer.

In fact, Singer considers it wrong to deny any being's pain.

Some individuals feel that if androids meet some or all of the aforementioned conditions, they should be accorded personhood, which comes with individual rights such as the right to free expression and freedom from slavery.

Those who oppose artificial intelligence being awarded personhood often feel that only natural creatures should be given personhood.

Another point of contention is the robot's position as a human-made item.

In this situation, since robots are designed to follow human instructions, they are not autonomous individuals with free will; they are just an item that people have worked hard to create.

It's impossible to give an android rights if it doesn't have its own will and independent mind.

Certain limitations may bind androids, according to David Calverley.

Asimov's Laws of Robotics, for example, may constrain an android.

If such were the case, the android would lack the capacity to make completely autonomous decisions.

Others argue that artificial intelligence lacks a critical component of persons, such as a soul, emotions, and awareness, all of which have previously been used to reject animal existence.

Even in humans, though, anything like awareness is difficult to define or quantify.

Finally, resistance to android personality is often motivated by fear, which is reinforced by science fiction literature and films.

In such stories, androids are shown as possessing greater intellect, potentially immortality, and a desire to take over civilization, displacing humans.

Each of these concerns, according to Lawrence Solum, stems from a dread of anything that isn't human, and he claims that humans reject personhood for AI only because they lack human DNA.

Such an attitude bothers him, and he compares it to American slavery, in which slaves were denied rights purely because they were not white.

He objects to an android being denied rights just because it is not human, particularly since other things have emotions, awareness, and intellect.

Although the concept of personality for androids is still theoretical, recent events and discussions have brought it up in a practical sense.

Sophia, a social humanoid robot, was created by Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based business, in 2015.

It first debuted in public in March 2016, and in October 2017, it became a Saudi Arabian citizen.

Sophia was also the first nonhuman to be conferred a United Nations title when she was dubbed the UN Development Program's inaugural Innovation Champion in 2017.

Sophia has made talks and interviews all around the globe.

Sophia has even indicated a wish to own a house, marry, and have a family.

The European Parliament sought in early 2017 to give robots "electronic identities," making them accountable for any harm they cause.

Those who supported the reform regarded legal personality as having the same legal standing as corporations.

In contrast, over 150 experts from 14 European nations signed an open letter in 2018 opposing this legislation, claiming that it was unsuitable for absolving businesses of accountability for their products.

The personhood of robots is not included in a revised proposal from the European Parliament.

However, the dispute about culpability continues, as illustrated by the death of a pedestrian in Arizona by a self-driving vehicle in March 2018.

Our notions about who merits ethical treatment have evolved through time in Western history.

Susan Leigh Anderson views this as a beneficial development since she associates the expansion of rights for more entities with a rise in overall ethics.

As more animals are granted rights and continue to do so, the incomparable position of humans may evolve.

If androids begin to process in comparable ways to the human mind, our understanding of personality may need to expand much further.

The word "person" covers a set of talents and attributes, as David DeGrazia explains in Human Identity and Bioethics (2012).

Any entity exhibiting these qualities, including artificial intelligence, might be considered as a human in such situation. 

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

Find Jai on Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Asimov, Isaac; Blade Runner; Robot Ethics; The Terminator.

References & Further Reading:

Anderson, Susan L. 2008. “Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ and Machine Metaethics.” AI & Society 22, no. 4 (April): 477–93.

Calverley, David J. 2006. “Android Science and Animal Rights, Does an Analogy Exist?” Connection Science 18, no 4: 403–17.

DeGrazia, David. 2005. Human Identity and Bioethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Gray, John Chipman. 1909. The Nature and Sources of the Law. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hubbard, F. Patrick. 2011. “‘Do Androids Dream?’ Personhood and Intelligent Artifacts.” Temple Law Review 83: 405–74.

Lawrence, David. 2017. “More Human Than Human.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26, no. 3 (July): 476–90.

Solum, Lawrence B. 1992. “Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences.” North Caro￾lina Law Review 70, no. 4: 1231–87.

Taylor, Charles. 1985. “The Concept of a Person.” In Philosophical Papers, Volume 1: Human Agency and Language, 97–114. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Artificial Intelligence - How Has The Blade Runner (1982) Film Envisioned AI Androids?


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip Dick was first published in 1968 and is set in post-industrial San Francisco in the year 2020.

In 1982, the book was renamed Blade Runner for a cinematic adaption set in Los Angeles in the year 2019.

While the texts vary significantly, both recount the narrative of bounty hunter Rick Deckard, who is entrusted with locating (and executing) escaping replicants/androids (six in the novel, four in the film).

The setting for both novels is a future in which cities have grown overcrowded and polluted.

Natural nonhuman life has virtually vanished (due to radiation sickness) and been replaced by synthetic and artificial life.

Natural life has become a valued commodity in the future.

Replicants are meant to perform a variety of industrial functions in this environment, most notably as labor for off-world colonies.

The replicants are an exploited race that was created to serve human masters.

When they are no longer useful, they are discarded, and when they struggle against their circumstances, they are retired.

Blade runners are specialist law enforcement operatives tasked with apprehending and killing renegade replicants.

Rick Deckard, a former Blade Runner, returns from retirement to track down the sophisticated Nexus-6 replicant models.

These replicants have escaped to Earth after rebelling against the slave-like conditions on Mars.

In both texts, the treatment of artificial intelligence serves as an implicit critique of capitalism.

The Rosen Association in the book and the Tyrell Corporation in the film develop replicants to create a more docile labor, implying that capitalism converts people into robots.

Eldon Rosen (who is called Tyrell in the film) emphasizes these obnoxious commercial imperatives: "We provided what the colonists wanted...." Every commercial venture is founded on a time-honored principle.

Other corporations would have developed these progressive more human kinds if our company hadn't." 

There are two types of replicants in the movie: those who are designed to be unaware that they are androids and are filled with implanted memories (like Rachael Tyrell), and those who are aware that they are androids and live by that knowledge (the Nexus-6 fugitives).

Rachael in the film is a new Nexus-7 model that has been implanted with the memories of Eldon Tyrell's niece, Lilith. Deckard is sent to murder her, but instead falls in love with her. The two depart the city together at the conclusion of the film.

Rachael's character is handled differently in the book.

Deckard makes an effort to recruit Rachael's assistance in locating the runaway androids. Rachael agrees to meet Deckard in a hotel room in the hopes of persuading him to drop the case.

Rachael explains during their encounter that one of the runaway androids (Pris Stratton) is a carbon copy of her (making Rachael a Nexus-6 model in the novel).

Deckard and Rachael actually have sex and profess their love for each other.

Rachael, on the other hand, is discovered to have slept with other blade runners.

She is designed to do just that in order to keep them from fulfilling their tasks.

Deckard threatens to murder Rachael but decides to leave the hotel rather than carry out his threat.

The replicants are undetectable in both the literature and the movies.

Even under a microscope, they seem to be totally human.

The Voigt-Kampff test, which separates humans from androids based on emotional reactions to a variety of questions, is the sole method to identify them.

The exam is conducted with the use of a machine that monitors blush reaction, heart rate, and eye movement in response to empathy-related questions.

Deckard's identity as a human or a replicant is unknown at this time.

Rachael even inquires as to whether he has completed the Voigt-Kampff exam.

In the movie, Deckard's position is unclear.

Despite the fact that the audience is free to make their own choice, filmmaker Ridley Scott has hinted that Deckard is a replicant.

Deckard takes and passes the exam at the conclusion of the book, although he starts to doubt the effectiveness of blade running.

More than the movie, the book explores what it means to be human in the face of technological advancements.

The book depicts the fragility of the human experience and how it can be easily harmed by the technology that is supposed to help it.

Individuals with Penfield mood organs, for example, can use them to control their emotions.

All that is required is for a person to look up an emotion in a manual, dial the appropriate number, and then experience whatever emotion they desire.

The device's usage and the generation of artificial sensations implies that people may become robotic, as Deckard's wife Iran points out: My first response was to express gratitude for the fact that we could afford a Penfield mood organ.

But then I understood how harmful it was to sense the lack of vitality everywhere, not only in this building - do you know what I mean? I'm assuming you don't.

That, however, was formerly thought to be an indication of mental disease, referred to as "lack of proper emotion." The argument made by Dick is that the mood organ inhibits humans from feeling the right emotional elements of life, which is precisely what the Voigt-Kampff test reveals replicants are incapable of.

Philip Dick was known for his hazy and maybe gloomy vision of artificial intelligence.

His androids and robots are distinctly ambiguous.

They desire to be like humans, yet they lack empathy and emotions.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is heavily influenced by this uncertainty, which also appears onscreen in Blade Runner.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Nonhuman Rights and Personhood; Pathetic Fallacy; Turing Test.

Further Reading

Brammer, Rebekah. 2018. “Welcome to the Machine: Artificial Intelligence on Screen.” Screen Education 90 (September): 38–45.

Fitting, Peter. 1987. “Futurecop: The Neutralization of Revolt in Blade Runner.” Science Fiction Studies 14, no. 3: 340–54.

Sammon, Paul S. 2017. Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner. New York: Dey Street Books.

Wheale, Nigel. 1991. “Recognising a ‘Human-Thing’: Cyborgs, Robots, and Replicants in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.” Critical Survey 3, no. 3: 297–304.

What Is Artificial General Intelligence?

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