Saturday, 29 August 2009
The world of automata and robots contains an area of illusion and fraud which presents many traps for the innocent.The vaucanson duck might have seemed as miraculous in its performance of eating and digesting as the chess-playing Turk at chess, but wheras the mechanism of the former was available for inspection, the von Kempelen chess player could only be examined under certain conditions, and that is being demonstrated by von Kempelen himself.
Comments on commercial exploitation ,mans desire for magic and instant solutions , as well as creduility can be found in literature through the ages.Remember Golems,this term is used in the Bible and in Talmudic literature to refer to an embryonic or an incomplete substance. In the creation of Adam ,at the third of the seven stages ,before he finally came to life when God breathed into his nostrils, his state was described by the rabbis as that of a golem, i.e a shapeless, unformed , substance.There have been , since the middle ages , many stories about wise men who made human effigies from the dust of the earth and then brought them to life with a shem or charm.
From the Greek automatos , acting of itself .Automata, often highly decorative , are mechanical artifacts which tend to imitate things from real life.Encyclopedia Brittanica omits robots from its definition of automata because robots are defined as functional, which automata are not.
At one extreme , in fiction , a robot can replace man and even better him. Although robots are not supposed to have feelings they often manifest them and insist that they are human, or at least that they are not machines.
In robot lore , truth as a concept may not seem the most relevant or vital criterion, but fraud in automation is worse than human deception becuse its association with science makes it seem impervious to corruption.
In a society of the future described by Phillip K Dick, there are so few animals left that these ar highly prized and kept as pets.Since pets represent the most important status symbols anyone can possess, those that cannot afford real animals have battery-operated artificial ones ,which to all intents and purposes are indistinuishable from the real thing.Only the owners are keenly aware of their inadequacy.Meanwhile , the only beings on earth which in all respects are no different from humans,except that they have no empathy with animals are Androids. They are hunted, retired or killed.The only way one can tell an android from a human is through very complcated psychological tests. Men tolerate artificial animals but cant abide artificial human beings.Elsewhere, Dick says that sometimes the androids themselves do not realise they are not human, even though they seem to lack proper feeling,human traits like love, kindness empathy.Yet scientists could no more find humaneness in the circuits of a robot than the soul in the body of a man.
I feel they deserve some kind of respect,what makes them seem unpleasant and unhappy is the fact they are given human traits by man playing God.For these reasons alone I urge caution!What would happen if robots themselves thought they were God and declared absolute power.
Noam Chomsky talks of man being preprogrammed for the accomplishments which he is able to attain. He suggests that for the aquisition of language there is no other explanation,He puts forward an idea ,that all languages have basic structure in common .The genetic program which establishes set of constraints is what provides the basis of our freedom and creativity.Yet preprogramming limits our imagination.
The difference between a robot programmed by man and man programmed by God , is a robot can be given a number of programs which one can change, but man has been condemned to one set of programs forever. Am only sayin.,to be continued
Posted by teifidancer at 13:47