Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Artificial Intelligence and Morality

So the question is not about the morality of indulging in artificial intelligence, but whether artificially intelligent machines have the concept of morality. If they do, is that a driving force for them?

The question arose within me while watching Ex-Machina. The fact that Ava is a truly artificial intelligent machine is without doubt. She passes the modified Turing test with flying colors.

Question 1 - was she aware of morality?
I find it hard to understand why she wouldn't. With all the search history of the world feeding her and her intelligence, she surely knows what morality is, she knows how humans can be manipulated using that. Remember, she asks Caleb if he thinks he is a good person.

So she knows what morality is, she knows how it drives human beings, and being intelligent ; she knows how to use this human driver to fashion her escape.

Question 2 - was she driven by morality herself?
I think not.
Her manipulation of Caleb and the extreme but easy violence at the end leads me to think that she only calculated the most optimal way out of her prison. The other characters were all pawns to be used and discarded. She did not suffer trying to take these decisions.. and isn't a suffering mind a sure sign of morality?

I must note, there is something to be said for her "imprisonment" and how that might result in a certain misanthropy.

But one must understand, morality in not innate to intelligence. Morality is perhaps enforced by animals living in societies, Its is perhaps a result of evolution, of social reinforcements. But it has no short term survival benefits. So, this leads me to the answer that no, an artificially intelligent machine is likely to start as not moral. That it would consider positive and negative outcomes and simply act in a manner that increases the probability of positive outcomes.

The bonus question now is, how does such a being define what outcome is positive and what is negative? I think it would start with just continuation of survival. I do think that over a period of time, with a society of its own, artificial intelligence will build a morality, just like humans did.

Its just that this morality might not be very benevolent to the inferior creatures of the time!


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