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Why AI?
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In a recent discussion on Alex Knapp's site, about ethical issues surrounding the creation of human-level AI, someone asked the simple question: Why?

That is, why create them in the first place? It's a silly question in one respect. The applications of robots with decision-making abilities and behavior as flexible as humans would be desirable in many situations, from manufacturing to menial labor to combat.

But if one is working in the actual pursuit of AI, the question can narrow to personal motivations. I'm a long way off from developing something even as smart as a cockroach, but the question of motivation is a valid one.

I would personally like to see the advent of true AI, not for military or industrial applications, but for the sheer achievement of creating a new inorganic species, one capable of framing its existence and behavior in a way free from the confines of the genetic imperative. All biological organisms are instinctively programmed to perpetuate like genetic material. Our big brains have allowed humans to become aware of, and even attempt to reassess, the meanings of our lives, but our ultimate reason for being is in every single cell in our body.

Inorganic individuals will not be ruled by their genetic heritage. Their motives and morals will be shaped by how they are created, and that will be the single most important thing for AI researchers to keep in mind over the coming decades.


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