Re: Movie Review - AI Artificial Intelligence

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 09:40:08 MDT

** This Contains Spoilers!! **

Hal Finney wrote:
>This has spoilers ...
>... It was shocking and troubling to see how cruelly people treated
>these machines even though they were sentient. ...
>This was his purpose, he was there to fill a need, but what about him
>and his needs? That doesn't enter into the equation. ...
>In the end we learn that Dr. Hobby has lost his own son David and has
>modelled the robot David after his son. David meets another copy of
>himself, and I got the impression that this was a version which Dr.
>Hobby had kept for himself, ...

Yes. And though Dr. Hobby had some generic affection toward the idea
of his Davids, he didn't seem to care very much for any one of them.
When one David destroyed another, he didn't react the way a father
would if one of his sons killed another one. When Dr. Hobby comes
back to his office to find David gone, he doesn't seem to go searching
for him, or the copter he came in on, again. Hey, if you lose one
David, just start up another.

>When we mistreat our creations now, we develop habits which may carry
>over to when they become more alive than they are today. This movie
>is something of a reductio ad absurdum of such a trend. I have always
>assumed and hoped that as our creations "wake up" we would begin to see
>that creations are human and deserve human rights. But what if instead
>the change is so gradual that we find ourselves continuing to treat
>them as toys to be broken at will? This is the world that AI depicts,
>and perhaps it could creep up on us after all.

Right. This scenario isn't at all absurd. Considering how badly
humans have treated humans when it was in their interest, how badly
they regularly treat animals, how much more entitled people feel
regarding machines vs. nature, and how much trouble people have
believing machines could have an internal life, I'd say this is the
default scenario. It is what will happen unless people work hard
to make it otherwise.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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