Good Essay On Artificial Intelligence And Limitations Of The Mortal Human Flesh
Technological development has ushered the creation of several technologies and mechanisms that significantly change the way human beings live. The invention of artificial intelligence (A.I.), for instance, introduced a way for scientists to create robots that are capable of assuming the actions or behavior, and responsibilities of human beings (Nilsson, 2). Unlike human beings, robots can accomplish numerous and complex tasks within a short period without experiencing exhaustion, anxiety, and stress (van de Gevel & Noussair, 5). A.I. technologies can also complete dangerous or risky tasks. When completing tasks, A.I. avoids human error. All of these reasons illustrate the value of A.I. or robots to human beings.
Despite the ability of robots to perform human tasks, however, they cannot fully function as human beings. Robots lack the core of humanity since they are merely programmed to do things but they are unable to make decisions and rationally think on their own. In some cases, A.I. appears to be detrimental to the survival of human beings (Bostrom, 115). Some issues surrounding studies in robotics and A.I. look into human employment and the possible misuse of technology. Dependence on A.I. or robots may lead to unemployment since technology can carry out human beings’ roles and responsibilities. Technology may also be misused, particularly by individuals that wish to use it for their own agenda or gains (Spellman & Stoudt, 5). Some forms of technology may also lead to the destruction of the environment (Spellman & Stoudt, 5).
Considering the issues raised about artificial intelligence, the succeeding discussion will focus on the main thesis or argument, which is that artificial intelligence cannot replace human beings. A.I. or robots cannot replace human beings because they are merely inventions – inanimate things or objects – that are incapable of feeling, making value judgments, and thinking critically to address issues or solve problems. The foregoing issue has been explored in many narratives.
While some texts – literary or film, among others – explore the contributions of A.I. to society, others highlight the disadvantages and shortcomings of technology, particularly robotics. Films such as A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Her (2013), and Robot and Frank (2012) explore these themes. Hence, the discussion focuses on issues pertaining to A.I. that were explored in the three films, specifically robots’ inability to distinguish right from wrong, exhibit rational thinking, and feel genuine human emotions.
Artificial Intelligence and Morality
As formerly noted, the films previously mentioned explore the shortcomings, weaknesses, and disadvantages of artificial intelligence. Robot and Frank, for instances, underscores the inability of A.I. or robots to distinguish right from wrong.
Robot and Frank is about Frank Weld, a retired old man suffering from dementia. Frank was a former thief. Since none of his children can look after him, his son, Hunter, purchases a robot to live with Frank. Programmed as a healthcare companion, the robot helps Frank follow a healthy daily routine that involves gardening, going for a walk, and cooking healthy food. The robot is supposed to assist Frank follow a strict daily routine as therapy to sustain his memory and maintain productivity daily.
At first, Frank felt indifferent towards the robot. In one of the scenes, Frank steals something from a souvenir store when he went to town with the robot. Unlike human beings, the robot cannot distinguish right from wrong, which is why it did not reprimand Frank for stealing. Realizing this, Frank decided to use the robot to his advantage. Frank taught the robot to pick locks with the intention of bringing the robot along to his planned heists. Frank and the robot stole an authentic copy of the novel Don Quixote, which Frank only did to impress Jennifer, a woman he liked who was working at the local library. In reality, Jennifer was Frank’s former wife. Frank does not remember Jennifer because of his failing memory.
After stealing the transcript, Frank plans another heist. Although it was difficult, Frank and the robot successfully steal the jewels from a wealthy developed who is involved with the demolition of the local library and its conversion into a community center. The local police officers found out about Frank’s involvement. Frank, however, uses his illness to claim his innocence while both his children try to help him in the process as his brain functioning continues to deteriorate. Since the robot could be used as a witness to prove that Frank stole the jewels, the robot tells him that he should erase the robot’s memory. In the end, Frank decides to do so. His children sends him to an institution for the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Robot and Frank’s narrative clearly illustrate that robots are unable to distinguish right from wrong. Stealing is wrong. Nonetheless, Frank’s robot did not realize that Frank was stealing nor was it able to do something about it since it was merely programmed to which is why it was able to aid Frank in committing several crimes. As a consequence, Frank was hounded by the police because of what he did. Fortunately, Frank was pardoned because of his condition. Nevertheless, the situation could have been prevented if the robot was able to advise Frank not to go through with the heists.
Furthermore, Robot and Frank also shows how human beings can take advantage of robots for their own benefit or agenda. After realizing that the robot does not exhibit a moral compass, particularly in terms of discerning right from wrong, Frank decided to use the robot as a means to get in secure places. Frank taught the robot how to pick locks, which is an example of how human beings can take advantage of the capabilities of robots to commit crimes.
Artificial Intelligence and Rational Thinking or Making Value Judgments
Although A.I. is supposed to exhibit intelligence, there are certain situations wherein it would not be able to do so. A.I. Artificial Intelligence highlights this argument. A.I. Artificial Intelligence was set in a post-apocalyptic world where the Earth was ravaged by global warming and natural calamities, particularly severe flooding. These unfortunate events led to population decline. To address this problem, the scientific community developed Mecha, a group of humanoids that were designed to act or behave as human beings.
The Mecha humanoids were supposed to mimic human beings, including their thoughts and emotions. Cybertronics, the creator of the Mecha technology sought to create humanoids that should be able to blend in human society. To test the capacity of Mecha humanoids to mimic human beings, they were integrated into the community. One of the Mecha humanoids, David who was a young boy, was sent to live with a couple who was dealing with their son, Martin’s illness.
Over time, David and his adoptive mother Monica build a strong bond. Conflict ensues, however, when Martin returns home. Martin feels jealous because of David’s relationships with his mother. After a series of unfortunate events, the family was forced to let David go. The family was supposed to bring David to Cybertronics as they saw him as a threat to their family. Monica, however, leaves David in a forest because she knew that Cybertronics will destroy the Mecha humanoid.
David meets Gigolo Joe, an adult humanoid. David asks Joe to help him find the Blue Fairy, as in the fairy in Pinocchio’s story. David thought that the Blue Fairy could also grant him a wish to become human. David and Joe risk their freedom to pursue their own goals. In the end, David and his robotic teddy bear, Teddy, gets trapped under water. The film then fast forwards to the future where humans are extinct and only the humanoids populate earth. The Mecha humanoids find David and Teddy. In the end, David’s wish was to spend another day with Monica. The humanoids help David by creating an image of Martin’s mother from Monica’s DNA.
In the film, David expected that the Blue Fairy would be able to make him into a human being. David’s behavior illustrates the humanoid’s inability to exhibit rational thought because he cannot distinguish between fact and fiction. Furthermore, as a humanoid, David should have known that becoming a human being is impossible but facts about humanity and science did not stop him from wishing that he could be human. In another incident, one of Martin’s friends pushes David. David then falls in the pool but since he held on to Martin, Martin also fell in the pool. David sank to the bottom of the pool bringing Martin with him and he nearly drowned. David could have let Martin go so the boy would not drown but the humanoid did not realize that he was endangering Martin. This was the reason why Martin’s parents decided to return David to the creators of Mecha humanoids.
David’s behavior in the film illustrates the inability of A.I. or robots to think rationally or make appropriate value judgments or decisions. Although the creators of Mecha created humanoids for the purpose of repopulating Earth and making them behave similarly to humans, particularly in the way that they feel emotions. Nonetheless, since humanoids are A.I., their feelings or emotions are artificial and they are unable to demonstrate logical thought or rationality in the way they see or view things and make decisions.
The film also illustrates how A.I. may unwittingly endanger the lives of human beings because of their inability to make rational decisions that require logical thought. Robots may be equipped with artificial intelligence but their decision-making is limited to information programmed in their system. Beyond that, they are unable to make rational decisions because they are unable to learn and understand human nature.
Artificial Intelligence and Human Emotions
As formerly noted, A.I. Artificial Intelligence shows that scientists can program A.I. to feel and exhibit human emotions. Nevertheless, this skill or capability is limited because robots do not experience people and the world fully. A.I.’s emotions are limited to the thoughts and feelings programmed into their system. Hence, they can only distinguish feelings or emotions based on how these were defined or encoded in their programming. Unlike human beings, robots do not experience different feelings or emotions in different situations but can only simulate or distinguish the appropriate feelings or emotions in a given situation. During an accident, for instance, A.I. merely knows that one should feel afraid but a robot or a humanoid cannot feel that feeling or emotion. A.I. merely pinpoints appropriate responses but is unable to genuinely experience or feel feelings or emotions. This argument is reflected in the film Her.
Her follows Theodore Twombly, a recluse who writes letters for people to make a living. Theodore receive clients’ requests. The clients tell writers like Theodore about their life and relationships, as well as their intended message. The writers then write the cards and letters for their clients. Theodore married Catherine, his long-time love. Nonetheless, Catherine asks for divorce. Due to loneliness, Theodore decides to purchase an application that served as a companion. Theodore can interact with the application, a woman named Samantha.
Throughout the film, Theodore and Samantha bond as they talk and experience many things together. Through Samantha, Theodore was finally able to let go of Catherine so much so that he readily signs the divorce papers. Over time, Theodore feels confused about his relationship with Samantha especially because he feels in love with the application. In the end, however, Theodore feels disillusioned when Samantha confesses that she talks to other people too, not just to him. Theodore then decides to cut ties with Samantha.
Her proves that A.I. is not capable of feeling genuine emotions. A.I. may be programmed to respond appropriately. In a way, scientists program feelings, emotions, and responses to the A.I.’s system. In particular situations, A.I. responds appropriately based on its programming. Nonetheless, it is incapable of genuinely feeling real emotions. In Her, Samantha tells Theodore that she loves him but in the process, she is also talking and communicating with other people who purchased her operating system or application. Samantha did not realize the importance of monogamy in human relationships.
The foregoing discussion illustrates the flaws, disadvantages, and weaknesses of A.I. based on arguments and themes explored in films – A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Robot and Frank, and Her. All three films illustrate the weaknesses of A.I. It is, therefore, detrimental to rely on A.I. because robots are incapable of discerning right from wrong, thinking rationally, and exhibiting genuine human feelings or emotions.
Bostrom, Nick. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, and Strategies. Oxford, MA: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Nilsson, Nils J. Principles of Artificial Intelligence. Morgan Kaufmann, 2014.
Spellman, Frank R. & Stoudt, Melissa L. Environmental Science: Principles and Practices. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press, 2013.
Van de Gevel, Ad. J. W. & Noussair, Charles N. The Nexus between Artificial Intelligence and Economics. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.