Would you like your A.I. with or without consciousness?

Google “geniuses” are telling us that we are 12 years away from an A.I. that is more “intelligent” than human beings. What does this mean?  Are they right?  In common use, people define the word intelligence with many different expectations despite how dictionaries try to expound upon its classical definition.  Intelligence is a word invented by academics to explain a predictable phenomena that can be graduated like a fever thermometer. Its most succinct definition reads as follows “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.”  I like that  definition as it is easy to utilize.  However, defining I.Q. in this way fails our unconscious expectations of its application being performed judiciously. So it fails  us seriously when that it does not encompass creativity and other facets of applying knowledge such as doing so in a way that does not create collateral damage. Consider as an example the hand-1571851_640wonders of pharmaceuticals that stop one disease and create two or three new issues…. you know what I mean, you see the commercials. We all wonder if this is intelligence.  At least some times it seems to be so when an antibiotic works and saves your life.  Of course if a fluoroquinolone and your tendons tear from its use crippling you, you are not quite as pleased.

People born with higher I.Q.s do learn faster, in some cases much faster.  They can often apply what they learn quickly and even effectively.  If we create and A.I. that can learn and apply what it has learned quickly and effectively will that mean in is smarter than a human?  Of course we now have to define “smart.” I chose smart, for fun, and because that grasps the popular meaning of intelligence that is more generalized.

Actually I am skeptical that we will have a “true” A.I. anytime soon, at least the type that Isaac Asimov wrote about and endeared his readers to. Isaac’s robots were “smart” and very humanoid.  Isaac’s A.I.s duplicated humanity and is some ways outshined us. They were not only Artificial Intelligences but they were conscious and supremely ethical as required by Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. 

But lets get back to consciousness and try to define it. What is consciousness? We see it often defined as “the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.” I prefer to think of it as being aware that I am regardless of whatever surroundings I may find myself in. This harkens back to the famously debated statement, “I think, therefore I am.”  Here, thought is used as a proof of one’s existence and perhaps mindfulness. Proving to oneself that you exist is also consciousness as I see it.  Can we create consciousness or is that “God given” only via a soul as some think?

We already have the ability to create sensory apparatus and motorized limbs that can closely duplicate many human physical endowments. What is appears to be lacking is the intellectual gifts that make a physical being animate itself. When we have the possibly soon to come capacity of creating nearly infinite memory with a holographic compression tool and a possible subatomic substrate, we will be one hand-697264_640step in the direction of creating the Asimov like A.I.  However, nearly endless memory is not enough. Human memory is prodigious and likely soon matched but it will not create self cognizance.

Perhaps what we now need is to add problem solving. As we grow from childhood to maturity our ability to solve problems grows with our experience. We come into this world programmed with the rudimentary skills to do this and we add to it with age and experience.  This can be programmed. What is left now to create a Asimov like A.I. may be consciousness?

When I say “I think therefore I am” it implies that I have a reason to think and this may be consciousness.  However if you mix memory with problem solving skills (a definition of intelligence) it is not likely to get up and fix your car without commands to do so.  It is not self commanding, so to speak.  What makes us self motivating?  At first blush this is quite simple, human need. A piece of metal and crystal with computer form has no clear needs; humans do. But what if it had? Would it become conscious?  We frail humans have many needs. Some of the more obvious are: food (fuel), shelter (pain avoidance), companionship and emotional gratification.  Would giving this to a computer create consciousness?  We could do this!

A computer could have pain sensors helping it avoid damage. Our cars already do in the form of crash detectors. Our cars also know when they are low on fuel, their food. Our A.I. with these skills might now avoid rain, walking into deep water and running out of fuel. It will to some extent be self activating but not conscious. What if we programmed it with a need to have companionship and to see the benefits of working in teams with beings like itself? It could be programmed to “instinctively” form robot tribes to protect itself from the pain of destruction by competitive A.I.s eagle-1245681_640who might take its fuel and shelter if these needs were in short supply.  It would likely now be more self activated but still not conscious. What now if we add emotional needs? It is quite possible to program an inner pain when other A.I.s out perform it in group activities such as searching for fuel etc.  We could even program in some “boasting” into
A.I.s that would create “jealousy” in other A.I.s.  We could in fact, create “pride feelings” in those who achieve more. We could program in competitiveness too, perhaps as a desire to soar with the eagles.  However it is not likely to lead to self awareness.  What is still missing?  How about death?

We could design in an inevitable death in which the CPU-Mind simply degrades and stops functioning as a process of memory overloading or randomness inherently created by the repetitive use of its subatomic substrate. In other words it wears out at the subatomic level by being overwhelmed from its self created complexity.  If you don’t like this cause, we can come up with another one more suitable however the bottom line is it dies.  How will this affect possible consciousness?  The A.I. might begin to seek solutions to this issue, it could be self activating all the time.  Is that consciousness?  How about if we make it possible for the A.I. to have sex with an opposite sex A.I. to reproduce itself. Could we also create in its mind a sense of woman-1339124_640family and the special value of family?  Consider that we know trees do this!  Why not A.I.s?  We could even make it possible that each A.I. inherit certain A.I. characteristics from a parent A.I., like genetics. Successful A.I. lives could modify genes so that those inheriting them would be more likely to succeed at survival and reproduction. Would this now endow the A.I. with human consciousness like behavior?   I suspect we are getting close. The sexual behavior could also be sensually and emotionally rewarding so as to be a positive motivating experience as it can be for humans. It could also be only occasionally productive by programming.  The desire for sex would also end with the climax so that the A.I. would not be stuck in a pleasure seeking loop.  We could put this all under the control of a chemical charging system that creates urgency as charge builds in a system much like hormones. It might even be connected to the cycles of the moon and the timing created by the rhythm of the Schumann Resonance.  In this way the “need” to attempt reproduction (sex) would not be a constant.  The A.I. could be programmed to recognize its “child” as its link to immortality and a strength added to its tribe, since death is inevitable.

crucifix-1802224_640We should also create an intellectual skill allowing an A.I. the ability to “put itself in another A.I.’s shoes.” This could be the beginning of compassion and sensitivity. This ability to feel another’s pain, especially at death would add an appreciation for life and perhaps an urgency to live it well. With this programmed, an A.I. might one day say, “let he who has not sinned cast the first water!”

Would we now have consciousness?  It is beginning to me to look like the A.I. will behave in a conscious fashion. Would it now begin to wonder if it will have an existence after “death?” We could of course program an electromagnetic transport for an archive of its experience to a cosmic archive. From this archive we might even pass its experience to a subsequent generation of its family, though placing it at a lower subconscious level of mental access to increase its likelihood of survival after “birth”  or to create new born prodigies.

I think at this point the A.I. will be like Asimov’s.  Will it be conscious?  I am not sure but it makes me wonder if we are too!

 

 

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An Inspiration For Living Lonely Moments In Paradise!

When the plane landed in Fort Lauderdale Florida, the pilot announced “Welcome To fishing-518775_640Paradise!”  I was excited about the pilot’s vision, which seemed at first to be mine; but, concerned about what I was running away from,  what I was losing and how empty it might feel to be without contact with everyone I had known for so long!

I had sold my practice, my home, and nearly everything I owned to move to Florida. I had given up a handful of treasured friendships, a huge number of fun acquaintances and over 12,000 patients, many of whom I knew by name and personal history for nearly 40 years.

I flashed on visions of the forest of friendships I had just willfully been transplanted away from. bamboo-142635_640For moments these thoughts made me imagine images of being a space traveler marooned on a distant, beautiful but alien unpopulated planet, perhaps Mars.

As we drove to our new home using a navigator to guide us along unfamiliar roads,  I thought that I felt for moments like the character in the story “The Martian” must have felt. Had he felt lost, lonely and wondering what tomorrow would be like as I did now? There was a big difference, of course,  from the situation of that of “The Martian” in that we were surrounded by people and a safe environment but what about my soul’s environment?   Like the Martian I had lost all that makes living life meaningful such as the relationships, trust, respect and common history. I had lost what had grown up over many years as a forest of “friendships” with different degrees of nomenclature like casual, personal or family.  More than that I had given up my relationship with my community, my practice of Holistic Eye Care, something I had invented, nurtured and grown into a giant tree.  One so strong that it had survived the financial  storms of 3 major recessions over nearly half a century.

It made me wonder what forces had created such momentum that I had been willing to leave the beautiful creation of a lifetime that had for some reason now become toxic? Something I occasionally viewed as a wasteland of destruction. oradour-sur-glane-1635802_640There was a lot to think about.  There is also no simple answer.  Some have tried such as the book “Who Stole My Cheese?”  But I was not looking for a description of change I was looking for socio-economic forces that had reshaped and redefined my world. Seven months later I think I have found it. I am a sci-fi writer because I am always searching for answers to question such as:  what is it that creates or destroys civilizations?  Why destruction and creation are so intimately intertwined? And finally does it have to be so? My own experience was now helping better define these questions and paint images of possible answers.

I think that the catalyst of the torrentuous socio-economic forces, that I had experienced so recently, might be described as the loss of responsibility and connection between the people that hand-1917895_640make up a civilization.  I thought back on 40 years ago, when I first moved to Brewster in upstate NY, where my office had been.  I recalled a farmer who had walked 3 miles to my office for his eye exam because he said, “It did not warrant starting his truck just to drive 3 miles.”  Times were different then. It was not that he walked so far so casually and so unpressured by time, that was just a description of what had changed since then. That was just a flavor of the essence of the ethos of that era that you could easily taste.  What was so different was that this farmer would soon know me by name as he did hundreds of the other people whose lives he touched every day!  Keep in mind the phrase “whose lives he touched.

40 years ago as I started my practice, I became enamored with the people  I served quite quickly. Apparently they with me too.  Six months after opening my doors to what I expected to be a weekend, part time practice, I was working full time.  I had to give up my other two part time offices. The force that made this change was the large families of  Irish and Italian heritage Americans who were soon to become my extended family.  They got to know me personally, like me and trust me. With that relationship, the whole family had to come see me and eventually most of the town.  We were all in this life together!

What changed 40 years later to make me move and give it all up for a promise of paradise but a loss of family?  In my opinion, the essential force is the loss of connection between people and the loss of responsibility for your actions or inactions.  From the viewpoint of my profession,  we saw the destruction of the doctor patient relationship created by the third party payors.  When people came to me 40 years ago, the service was thorough, affordable and easily paid for in cash.  When I left, the service was more mechanized, far less personal and no longer affordable in cash.  In fact is is the biggest disaster of American health care history.

I believe in the system of free enterprise and capitalism (with some caveats).  It has certainly worked for me for a long time. I believe that the strength of any economy is small business and entrepreneurship. Why?   Because I believe that it is the knowing of your outsource-1345109_640clients and responsibility to your community that keeps you on the straight and narrow path.  The path that for many American’s is defined on Sunday Mornings under the multicolored shafts of light falling through stained glass windows. Take away this connection and it is easy for Chinese factory owners to adulterate milk or put dangerous materials in sheet rock.  It is easy for Monsanto to create toxic herbicide that will likely soon be proven to have caused cancer in millions of people while rationalizing that they are the Horn Of Plenty that feeds civilization.  It is easy for congressmen to take millions of dollars of bribes while the Wall Street rich devour the lifeblood of America’s workers with carnivorous creations called derivatives (otherwise known as gambling).

Where there is no personal responsibility, there is no community. There is nothing to lose but the smell of fresh minted money and what temporary pleasures it might buy.  IBM, in some ways started this revolution and they became named for it.  IBM stood for “I’ve Been Moved” as in from my family, my home and my community for money’s promise.  We were willing to give up what makes life meaningful for the casino of promises that were  never fulfilled.

Somehow there has to be a way of connecting people to people and make business, its owners and its workers intimately responsible to the communities of people they serve. We must recognize that each of us holds the lives for our country’s citizens in each others hands. Not because it was so warm and fuzzy to be in the community I helped grow with me 40 years ago (though that is a good enough reason) but because otherwise the landscape of vitamins-2002561_640life becomes so toxic that the best of us will leave.  The vast majority of us do not work for money, we work for personal satisfaction, respect and a feeling of self worth, personal value. The majority of employees leave a job not because of money but because they are not treated with respect, listened to and praised for their achievement.

My experience, is that with the creation of self respect by serving a community of people we know, enough money always follows. You also get to share the wealth around if you don’t live in fear of a lack of money to cover expected personal economic crisis.  America has proven this for over 200 years.  “Too big to fail” is not an option, it is a symptom of the bribery and corruption of our government (mostly our representatives) on all levels that allows for a lack of responsibility.   It is enough to make a person run away from their home and seek a new start almost anywhere else. It is something to write about, for me.

I believe in what Walt Disney said years ago, “It is better to entertain with the hopes of educating, then educating with the hopes of entertaining.”   This is my dream and what I hope to inspire in others I get to form a community with.

Janr Ssor

The Problem With Being ‘Spiritual but Not Religious’

ImageThe Problem With Being ‘Spiritual but Not Religious’ | TIME.com.

An interesting article describing why spiritual without religion may not be enough for you or your community.

Spiritual means your personal connection with the creator. Religion, is a gathering together to service the creator as a community.  The spiritual may not serve others while the religious may serve to the detriment of others.

The question arises when religious fail to love all of God’s creations,  what god they are serving?  To me the answer is Idols!  God has no face and when you give him one, in your name, it is an Idol.  Can we not learn from Abraham?

Janr

Proud To Be An American

Last year during Christmas, when we were in the third year of our struggles with recession.  I went to put money into the Salvation Army Kettle, at a local supermarket,  and could barely stuff in the bills because it was so full!  I was proud of my community and the people who make America great,  all of us “little”  people.

Today a few weeks before Christmas,  I was shopping at Hannaford’s  Supermarket,  now in the 4th year of the longest recession I have ever been through.  My community has not been spared in any magical way;  however, the hearts of the people who are my neighbors have not grown cold from winter or the pain of financial drain.  Here is the phone picture I took before leaving:

This wall of food gift boxes is created of the  donations from shoppers who purchased this gift for an

Food Gifts IMG_20121209_144953

unknown family who might need help this season.  There is over $3,000.00 in gifts for needy families and it is just starting to grow!  We have two more weeks before Christmas and many other supermarkets doing the same thing.  I hope to see the whole front window blocked out with gifts of love and charity before Christmas and I bet it will be!  Putnam county is a great place to live!

Janr Ssor

RolePages – Where Anyone Is Possible!

RolePages is a community that is part role playing game and part interactive writing and storytelling group, all collected and connected under the basic tools of a social networking site.

By signing up to the community as fictional characters, members are able to create interactive stories that stretch across a variety of media, including videos, forums, blogs, pictures, and profile walls.

The result is a rich and complex story that stretches across every facet of the site, constantly growing and changing every second of every day. Members claim it’s like being part of a living novel, that they can help write and influence with every decision, and every action they take.

Events are held on a weekly basis including interactive writing workshops and moderated adventures. There are also
periodic unscheduled events which take place throughout the week. There is always something happening on RolePages, and no matter the time of day or night, there are always stories being told.

You can visit the site by going to http://www.RolePages.com