Archive | June 2014

A Geeky Artists’ Thoughts on the Probability of Self Aware, Autonomous, Computational, Systems


It’s observed in the art and design world; that we put a piece of ourselves into all we create. This may be an attempt to relate to it in some way. A more in depth analysis might suggest that we are expressing personal influences in the process. With technology however it’s also more function centric. Technology is usually designed to be used by interacting with it in some manor. The camera for instance, was designed with the eye in mind so that it would work well with the eye. The personification of technology is observable to some degree across the board.

In modern times we have reaped the benefits of our technologies to the extent that abundance persists beyond our fetish for rarity. Our willfulness is now a pressure to create technology that is somewhat more of a convenience than a need. Of course there is the consideration that it outsources some of our functionality in order to make us more broadly functional but the necessity of it might still be subject to an ongoing debate.

Consider a well to do business person who wants a hot, French maid to do his domestic chores for him. In the future it would seem entirely possible to meet this demand with a humanoid robot. There are some design challenges such as the hardware and software challenges of creating a functional home service robot but there is also the uncanny valley to traverse for the desired aesthetics. The progress in those areas however make that seem an attainable goal. Check out the work of Benjamin Goertzel (OpenCog) and David Hanson (Robokind).

Thanks to the transparency of some of the more recent business models, I was able to do some research into the advancements in those fields. From what I gather, (and I may have misunderstood) many of the more difficult problems associated with developing human level intelligence would be solved with such a functional robot. We have however said such things about chess and Jeopardy but this is real world, motor and sensor functionality with linguistic interaction. This situation would be much more difficult to cheat especially with a machine that spends so much time being tested in the field. This might also promote the advancement of the technology in an arms race type scenario. This idea was suggested by Hugo de Garis and I’m agreeing with it from the perspective that I illustrated in the first paragraph. I would suggest that from a design point, we would tend to personify the technology until it became more like us than we initially bargained for. This is what my piece “Maid” is about.

I’m wondering if at some point a service robot would become complex enough to alter its own attention allocation and goal system and no longer care to be a service robot. What level of complexity would they reach before they must be offered citizenship? Will the timing be opportune? I’m thinking that a few people will likely lose a sizable amount of cash when their service robot must be emancipated.