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    What A.I. Says About Human Nature

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    Paeter
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    What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  Paeter on April 18th 2012, 2:29 pm

    Cleirac suggested I start a topic on this based on a rabbit trail I almost started while talking about the upcoming Prometheus movie.

    I think AI almost always provides fertile ground for discussion of human nature. Usually science fiction goes the "Star Trek's Data" or "Short Circuit" route, where a lightning bolt here or a special chip there can create real emotion and self-awareness. The implication, intentional or not, is that humans are nothing more than "meat-machines", with no intangible (spiritual) nature, since their defining characteristics can be reproduced exclusively in the physical realm.

    Although sometimes sci-fi supports a non-naturalistic view. Such as the recent Battlestar Galactica (in which the Cylons are made by humans but implanted with souls by "God") or Terminator: Salvation (and the Sarah Connor Chronicles, R.I.P.) which argue for the idea that machines, no matter how intelligent, cannot gain true self-awareness.

    Would you guys agree that AI concepts always fall into one of these categories, or is there another way you've seen it used in fiction? Maybe we could try listing uses of the AI concept in fiction and categorizing them as supporting either a Naturalistic or Supernatural view of humanity?

    For example, I think Naturalistic examples of AI include:

    Data (Star Trek TNG)
    Johnny 5 (Short Circuit)
    "The Doctor" (Star Trek Voyager)
    Agent Smith (and most other machines/programs) The Matrix
    The programs and the new life form chick from "Tron: Legacy"

    Supernatural supporters would include:

    The Terminator franchise
    Battlestar Galactica
    AIA (Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, shameless plug)

    Any thoughts or examples to add?


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    Hackmodford
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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  Hackmodford on April 18th 2012, 7:59 pm

    I can't really think of any others...

    I was pondering what category the planet earth would fall into (hitchhiker's guide reference: earth is the computer that figures out the ultimate question for the ultimate answer of 42) but I think it would just be a "giant calculator" essentially...


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    Rickster

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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  Rickster on April 18th 2012, 9:37 pm

    Althogh it's Fantasy not Sci-Fi I think Pinocchio might be an example and depending on which version you look at it's both

    Naturalistic
    In the orignal story Pinocchio is alive and talking even when he was still a log

    Supernatural
    In the Disney version he comes to life by the Blue Fariy, which I find interesting that you see 3 times in the movie once to bring the him to life next to deliver him from bondage and third as a messanger in the shape of a dove.

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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  Hackmodford on April 18th 2012, 10:50 pm

    Rickster wrote:
    Supernatural
    In the Disney version he comes to life by the Blue Fariy, which I find interesting that you see 3 times in the movie once to bring the him to life next to deliver him from bondage and third as a messanger in the shape of a dove.

    Shocked


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    cleireac

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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  cleireac on April 19th 2012, 10:12 am

    Paeter wrote:

    For example, I think Naturalistic examples of AI include:

    Data (Star Trek TNG)
    Johnny 5 (Short Circuit)
    "The Doctor" (Star Trek Voyager)
    Agent Smith (and most other machines/programs) The Matrix
    The programs and the new life form chick from "Tron: Legacy"

    Supernatural supporters would include:

    The Terminator franchise
    Battlestar Galactica
    AIA (Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, shameless plug)

    Any thoughts or examples to add?

    I'm thinking you should add Max Headroom to the naturalistic list. He was created out of the memories of Edison Carter by the teen genius Bryce Lynch, after Edison's boss, Ned Grossberg (of Network 23) tried to have Carter killed. Since Edison Carter was the main ratings generator for the Network, Grossberg wanted a 'virtual' Carter, so had Bryce scan Carter's brain. Something didn't go right with the scan, and Max was 'born.' There were many times in the series where Max's 'life' was at risk, and Edison Carter and his friends go to extraordinary lengths to 'save' it.

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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  mindspike on April 19th 2012, 2:09 pm

    Paeter wrote:For example, I think Naturalistic examples of AI include:
    The programs and the new life form chick from "Tron: Legacy"

    Supernatural supporters would include:
    AIA (Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, shameless plug)

    Are these two examples by contrast? Because AIA does not appear to have a soul (she is just a computer program - unless you are referencing a surprise in Spirit Blade 3), and Quorra (Tron: Legacy) is a "true" lifeform.

    The whole subtext of Tron: Legacy argues for the existence of the digital web not as inherent to a machine, but as existing on another plane where reality is malleable if one only understands the underlying principles. In this respect, the "Programs" are animals and the ISOs are people. One of the biggest problems with that train wreck of a movie is that it does not make a consistent statement about much of anything. Bleh. Moving on.

    What about other "meat machines" such as clones and replicants? I would think that Blade Runner and Space: Above and Beyond argue not that true life has a soul, but that at some point it ceases to matter if behavior is "real" or "programmed". To paraphrase Clarke's Law: sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from real life.

    In Teen Titans (2003) #26, Raven tells Superboy that "he has a soul, it's young, but it's all his," implying that Superboy started out as a meat machine and gave himself true life. This metaphysical notion has its roots in Nietzsche's work, and applies uniquely to a superhero universe populated by living gods (a repeated theme in Grant Morrison's work in particular). To resurrect the argument from "Thus Spake Zarathustra":

    Nietzsche wrote:God is dead. ... And we have killed him. ... Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?


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    cleireac

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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  cleireac on April 19th 2012, 5:31 pm

    This is probably a rabbit trail to the topic at hand, but I found this http://io9.com/5903221/meet-xna-the-first-synthetic-dna-that-evolves-like-the-real-thing and thought it might be of interest, even if tangentially, to the discussion.

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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  DNArington on April 19th 2012, 8:14 pm

    Paeter wrote:
    Any thoughts or examples to add?

    The Iron Giant would go on the spiritual side (at one point the boy says something like "you can think for yourself so you must have a soul) then again that would mean all animals have souls too.

    I,Robot would go on the naturalistic side.

    Paeter
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    Re: What A.I. Says About Human Nature

    Post  Paeter on April 24th 2012, 9:50 pm

    mindspike wrote:
    Paeter wrote:For example, I think Naturalistic examples of AI include:
    The programs and the new life form chick from "Tron: Legacy"

    Supernatural supporters would include:
    AIA (Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, shameless plug)

    Are these two examples by contrast? Because AIA does not appear to have a soul (she is just a computer program - unless you are referencing a surprise in Spirit Blade 3), and Quorra (Tron: Legacy) is a "true" lifeform.

    Sorry for the ambiguity. Yes, they are in contrast. AIA is not truly "alive". Though Raan seems to wish she were and talks to her as though she were. The story concept doesn't lend itself to believing that machine life can become equal to human life. That plays out even more in SB3.

    By contrast, Quorra was digital life that was able to spontaneously gain personhood.

    I lump the other programs in with her only because of the way they are portrayed. (Sympathetically, with complex emotions. We're meant to "care" about them as though they are people.) Though the script does technically make a distinction.

    Totally agree that the script didn't know what it was saying, though! Hilarious!


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