Re: Robots in Social Positions (Plus Intelligent Environments)

Mark Phillips (
Thu, 08 Jul 1999 18:50:34 CDT

Hi, everyone

I should think that with sufficiently *advanced* nanotech (not even to mention the possibilities of hyperspace tech [a la Saul-Paul Sirag] and pico- and femto-tech [as briefly mentioned in Kurzweil's *Age of Spiritual Machines*]) many "jobs," "activities," "chores," etc. will likely be **either** (more-or-less completely) OBVIATED **or** thoroughly NANO-cybernated, thus obviating macro-level (i.e., conventionally conceived)
"robots." Now, of course, a "Robby the Robot" type of robot (or something
generally similar) may indeed find uses in various environments/contexts, as might a Moravecian "bush robot"; but, for the most part, I should think that such things will be obviated, precisely at the nano-organizational level.

On the OTHER hand---and here's wHere it gets axiologically/normatively interesting---there shall surely be intelligent "artifactual" (yet, of course, oftentimes quasi-organismic) **systems** (whose macro-level manifestations might well be thought of as ontological **gestalts**, i.e.,
"entities," or even [sometimes] "robots"). And, indeed, these systems,
robots, what-have-you, well be not only intelligent, but ULTRA-intelligent. WIll they qualify as *persons* (a la Strawson, David L. Norton, et al)? Tough question. My intuition is PROBABLY!! And don't forget that "we" shall soon-on be able to *merge* with entities/systems such as these. What of personal identity?? Well I burned-out (mea culpa!) before completing my Ph.D.s in both economics (NYU) and philosophy (SUNY-Buffalo) (although I got my J.D., thank goodness) so I'll defer to our resident Ph.D. on such matters, Max (More, that is). You did you dissertation on this stuff (more or less) didn't you Max?

And as for the whole *ethical/legal* "status" of ultra-intelligent systems, this is surely a conceptual *frontier* where we'll have to evolve it as we go along (kinda like common law). My intuition though, goes for a kind of modified combination of "Asimov's Laws of Robotics" plus something closely resembling a robust set of liberal/civil libertarian protocols for humans vis-a-vis such systems. (BTW, didn't Asimov also promulgate something parallel with [and conjoined with] the Robotic "laws" specifically enumerating such *human* protocols??---someone help me [us] on this reference!)

And if some of this missive is already passe, redundant, not-courant, then **please forgive me**--I'm playing "catch-up" again and still have tons of Extro e-mail to sift through. Just my 2 cents!


P.S. BTW, I've seen Dave Deutch's (excellent and highly recommended, BTW) book *Fabric of Reality* mentioned in passing a few tines lately, but what about Dave Darling's equally great (though somewhat different) book, *Equations of Eternity*? Darling is also a mathemetical physicist and much of *Equations...* dovetails with Deutch's *Fabric...* (although I should mention that whereas Deutch comes out for his own modified multiple-worlds interpreation of quantum cosmology, Darling, as best I can make out, pops for a modified Wheeler-Bohm (hidden variable???!) self-activating-becoming-yet-sorta-kinda-all-really-happening-"at-once"-Universe [yeah, yeah, I know, I'm not completely sure what the hell that means just now either!]) Darling's stuff is very good, however, and I wonder what the rest of you guys and gals think!?

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

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