Reality of Data

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Makarov, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Triskelion

    Triskelion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Robots are already taking our jobs. Jus' sayin'.

    In the near future, hardware & software will replace a good many low~medium skill jobs. Like what Wordpress & Wix have done to web design, or automatic cashiers have done at retail stores.

    In our reality, there would be a branding component to a high tech android, which might put people off worse than the malware issues. Like when a commercial tries to appropriate slang ~ its very commercialization makes its coolness expire. Interpersonally, accepting an android as a peer, this will factor.

    Add to this future 3D printing/replication of cheap household goods, and I truly wonder what it will do to the earning potentials of the poor. Particularly in countries with one trick pony economies (oil, widget mass production, etc).

    Like a real life violation of the prime directive: medieval mindset + modern technology = boom.
     
  2. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Most of the female TREK fans - of whom I am aware - who would love to marry Data, or an android exactly like him in appearance, mannerisms and temprement, have explained that real life men can do them harm. They can be emotionally and physically abusive, unlike an android, which is usually their stance.

    And yet, I've seen it happen with my friends and it's been done to me, where a woman will torture you to see how far she can push you. It's excites them, knowing that their man, who's got these big, powerful hands that could crush them like a bear's paws would, can have his buttons pushed to the nth degree, and yet still control himself for reasons of "love" or some such.

    I don't know what's all behind it, it occupies them or ... something. But with an android, whose great strength, once aroused, could crush bone, even, they can try to annoy and irritate him, endlessly knowing full well his "safety" switch is permanently "On." He won't strike them. He won't revenge on them. He won't do anything at all, ever, towards them, that isn't a part of his programming.

    Whereas one of the joys of real life women for men is their unpredictability. Something a subroutine or mathematical equation just can't simulate and sure as hell can't match. So, it's interesting, really, how the sexes can be such Polar Opposites. On such extreme ends of the scale. And besides, realistic looking robots, like what some AI Labs have already come out with are very creepy! Come on ...
     
  3. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We're speaking hypothetically if the android had really achieved sentience though. If it were truly capable of generating it's own thoughts, whose electric circuitry is every bit as complicated and malleable as our neural circuitry. Then it would be capable of being 'Unpredictable'. Our own unpredictability is due to the complexity of our neural circuitry, why wouldn't an equally complex android produce the same?

    I'm sure there are many women who fit your description but honestly that sounds more like a male fantasy than an honest description of women's motives. Except, I think you're right that women who've been abused might see Data as the ultimate 'safe' companion.

    Personally I prefer smart, strong women who push me to do things I wouldn't do otherwise.
     
  4. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How can someone lust after a machine, though? A robot? A toaster? I believe the term for that form of psychological impedimentia is "pygmalionism." It's not good. Not healthy. Not ... not a part of the Human Condition, if you take my meaning.
     
  5. Triskelion

    Triskelion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Perhaps not, but if you could devise a sufficiently complex machine - with sentience, aesthetically pleasing, and individual - how would that be different than what a human being actually is? There may not be procreation, but that is fine with some. At that point, you ask - what is it to be human? Can it be replicated artificially?

    If all we have to go on vis-a-vis a "soul" is ancient metaphors - then who is to say a sentient individual does not have one? How can anyone lay boundaries around something there is no scientific definition for?

    You can't - at best, it'd be a bluff. A human conceit.

    Here's a funny question - what if all life on Earth is the product of artificial intelligent robots that evolved and seeded the galaxy with biological analogues of their "immortal" intelligence? What would humans be then?
     
  6. SoM

    SoM Commander Red Shirt

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    I think #2 is really two separate bits
    2a) The android is sentient, does not want to be your companion, and you force it to be with physical force, the threat of termination, the threat of damage to things it cares about, etc.
    2b) The android is sentient, and you have programmed it with the desire to be your companion.

    #2a is no different to a real-life forced marriage morally
    #2b is a more... interesting case for one reason - is it really possible without tipping over into #1?
     
  7. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    if you can program something to that extent that you can exactly control its behaviors and desires then by definition it CAN'T be an autonomous and self-aware being.
     
  8. maneth

    maneth Captain Captain

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    Interesting question.

    Data's probably the best developed character in TNG, part of what makes him so interesting. He's also advanced enough disobey a direct order (Clues) even if there's a catch, since Picard told him to do it when they first encountered the Palaxians, even if his memory got wiped. In "The Most Toys" Data also showed himself capable of a direct lie, he had just fired his phaser at one of the bad guys when he was transported back onto the Enterprise. The transporter trace showed his weapon had been fired, but he shrugged it off as a transporter malfunction, and the rest of the crew bought it. If that happened in real life, it would be pretty scary.
     
  9. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Can't you understand? Don't you realize? Even resorting to the absurdity of this outlandish theory to support such an argument only underscores its weakness? TNG established that Data was living and we can simply accept that, because it's part of the story. Unfortunately, they did make the mistake of casting a live actor with carnival make-up on his face to represent that. Because now, Brent Spiner, the actor, is actually responsible for Data's human qualities and the attraction that some of female fandom feel for him.

    In other words, had Data been realized by a STAN WINSTON robot modelled after, puppeted and voiced by Brent Spiner, then the numbers of female fans wanting to run off for a romantic interlude with Data would've - most decidedly - gone South ... like a Duck in Winter! Or had Data been, as suggested Bruce Maddox, "a box on wheels," instead, then the debate over a sentient android would've been much less lively. But presenting a live human and saying - "look at this guy, he's an androild, alright?" makes it very hard to be objective about the issue, when his Humanity is abundantly evident, aparent and only too real.
     
  10. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Star Trek erred on the side of caution in regards to AI and robots. We are likely to have AI just as capable in 30-40 years, not centuries. There is even no need for a fancy leap like "positronics" to make them possible. Just look at the robots in "Brothers", "Schizoid Man". We already have robots more sophisticated in the real world in 2014.

    As for Data..when he designed Lal, it was a shapeless neutral form. Did anyone feel uncomfortable with that? Probably. In TOS it was always assumed that despite their technical sophistication, androids/AI would never have feelings, etc. This is no longer true, a sufficiently advanced AI should have no reason to be unable to mimic or duplicate the human mind, in fact, the two may meld seamlessly. In much of science fiction literature (think Benford, Brin, Iain Banks, et al) machine civilization supplants the biological as a natural evolutionary progression.

    I believe there will definitely be a point where the increasing capabilities of AI will make us uncomfortable, robots will be awkward like Data is. Eventually they will move beyond that, and so will we. We will likely even meet them part of the way, and then fully.

    I give major kudos for JJ Abrams introducing an android in the alternate history's timeline WAY before what we would think of as STNG's timeline.

    As for machines taking our jobs, in the past, automation and computers have led to them taking over old jobs and has created new ones, even more than they took away(contrary to TOS's paranoia)...now, in the near future, they may reach a critical mass, whereby we lose more jobs than we gain. But it's not so bad...they will create wealth or "abundance" and likely make capitalism obsolete in favor of a post-scarcity economy. There is also the idea that in the early stages of this change, a sort of general stipend for the general population can be created.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/why-robots-taking-jobs-is-a-good-thing-2014-3
    http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2014/03/10/why-the-rise-of-the-robot-workforce-is-a-good-thing/
    http://positivefuturist.com/archive/381.html

    RAMA
     
  11. Whoa Nellie

    Whoa Nellie Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think 2takesfrakes hit the nail on the head here. If Data had been presented as more AI (such as Dr. Theopolis from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) and less Pinocchio, I wager there would be a whole lot less romantic Data scenes written in fan fiction (Yours truly included :whistle: ).

    Anyone else having the urge to read Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" :biggrin:

    Warmest Wishes,
    Whoa Nellie
     
  12. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks, Whoa Nellie - most kind. And yes, there have been a surprising number of shows, over the years, which have addressed this issue of machines becoming alive. It always seemed to me that most of those from the Olden Days were mainly expressing the superstitions and fears people had about technology - technology that to us seems so primative, benign and bereft of threat. What would they think of science's attempts at artificial intelligence?

    For Data, it took a Court of Law and a female judge who knew - and wanted to rape - Picard, to determine that he was more than just a mere machine. What test would we use in reality that would convince anybody? In Planet of the Apes, the first ape that demonstrated his newfound awareness did so by saying "no" - by defying its Human master. A machine rebelling in this way might also count.

    What a machine mind - independent of programming fed into it by its Human masters - would aspire to become, or hope to achieve is very hard to imagine. It would not have passion, as we do. Emotions. Such a being would be intensely innocent, just from having cold circuits. For a very long time, Humans were self-aware and intelligent, but they didn't know what to do with it. They just wandered the plains and lived like they had always done, as wild animals. Maybe machines would be that way, too ... unsure, perhaps even unable, to redefine their own sense of purpose. At least for a very long while ...
     
  13. Makarov

    Makarov Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm not so sure about machine's taking our jobs. I don't know any grocery stores that have only automated checkout, in fact a local store recently removed their automated registers they were trying out. Web designers can shift their focus a little bit and still be highly valuable.

    If you guys have seen "Her" I think it's a good example of how the divide between robots and humans would be huge. While an AI could mimic humans there's still an aspect that's inhuman, it may pretend to have human emotions when it's really just cold calculations going on.

    Data of course is more a person, with all the little dashes of humanity they give him, but imagine Data without those. For instance in "The Most Toys" after the woman helping him was vaporized, Data is clearly in revenge mode. But an actual machine would probably be indifferent, which would be a disturbing lack of reaction to what occurred.
     
  14. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @2takesfrakes

    You are making assumptions about the limitations of what a machine can be programmed to do. Machines can not only be programmed with specific instructions, they can be programmed to experiment with the world and generate their own instructions according to the results. This is called a 'neural network' because it's modeled after the way human neurons work. These neural networks generate their own algorithms through training.

    Right now these neural networks can only be made on the application level, but imagine if they could be made on the physical level, actually physically building circuits according to this training? Would this really be any different from the way human children learn? From neurons in your brain re-arranging their connections according to your experiences?

    As to your point about feeling emotions and experiencing sentience, you assume the android experience would lack the conscious experience we feel. But to that I respond, why do YOU feel emotions? What makes YOU experience sentience? Do you believe in a soul that is separate from the body? Because if you don't, it's nothing more than a byproduct of your own electro-chemical circuitry.

    If the experience of emotion can be created by electro-chemical circuitry, why not electric circuitry? What makes the design of the human body so special?
     
  15. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I may not have an Animal Spirit Guide, as Chakotay has, but I am just as deeply spiritual as he, I assure you. Yet, the passions and weaknesses of the flesh are not disassociated from the spirit of the living. In fact, no Human can understand the feeling of feeling nothing at all. The soul, if it is seperate and unlike the flesh, relies on the body for everything from simple transport, to senses of every kind, including sight, to experience reality. I certainly have never had an "out of body experience," although I have had what is termed a "peak experience." This is a profound experience, I can tell you and intensely moving. It is said that the Apollo astronauts, early in the program, would read the Bible extensively to the people of Earth, because of the spirituality floating weightless and just being in The Void brings. I can only imagine it's kind of the same sensation, really.

    A machine cannot experience these things because it is not flesh. It can inherit intellectual curiosity and interest, but passion? No. That is a fire kindled by the flesh... As to these biorythms and widgets and doodads and whatever else comprises a modern robot and its program, I can't pretend to know about all that. What I can tell you is that even if they are alive, they do not feel. And maybe that cold emptiness, that loneliness would be enough for them to give up their spirit, if such a thing were possible. It would be too painful to endure, I'm certain of that. As Mister Spock so eloquently put it, "Knowledge and Logic ... are not enough." I believe it.
     
  16. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't know. The appropriate combination of drugs and psychological conditioning can be pretty effective in "programming" a real life human being. And I don't think anyone would argue that humans are autonomous and self-aware.
     
  17. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Isn't the very concept of Data unrealistic? Some scientist and innovator created the most sophisticated positronic android, it's a single unit, and the best minds in the Federation try to wrap their heads around how to duplicate that achievement.

    Is there any real life example that mirrors this situation? Did someone build a complex piece of machinery that nobody else understands completely?
     
  18. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    that's an extremely elaborate form of manipulation or influence, not quite the same as actually programming in the desires and behaviors themselves down to the letter. There's always a degree of randomness and uncertainty in Human behavior, but not for example, in a video game character who responds according to its code so that, given the various options in the game, responds in a certain pre-programmed way.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Randomness in behavior would never be a limitation for a complex intelligent machine - true randomness is easy to do. Systematic expression of feelings would be trivial as well - you just need to tell the machine what feelings are like, and it will learn to imitate them.

    Whether there is any difference between learning feelings and being born with them is highly debatable. Humans and the animals we study acquire feelings by learning, certainly: if they don't get the opportunity to learn from their social peers, they may acquire something, but we don't recognize or accept it as feelings. Because that's what feelings are: a recognizable pattern of behavior.

    If that pattern absolutely need be "inborn" in order to qualify in some sort of a contest, then that should be easily done as well. Passion can be programmed in. For us, it's a simple passion to copulate, but a machine could be given far more interesting passions, suitably channeled to generate the sort of feelings that humans accept as genuine.

    Really, the "problem" with AI isn't that it would have difficulty being human. It's that it is in theory capable of an existence so far superior to human that imitating humanity perfectly would be a trivial task for it. And we cannot accept this, because we need 100% of our capacity to achieve the same thing, and sometimes more.

    As for the sexbot three-tier thing, I think we have to further dive into the concept of "forced marriage" there, and accept that all marriages are forced. That is, they all are held together by forces of interaction between the subjects, and between them and the world around them. Sometimes those forces are great enough that the odds of the spouse/sexbot walking away are reduced to near-zero - and this rarely is the case with the kind of forces we find objectionable, such as being chained to the bed, beaten regularly or being threatened with exposure, and more typically with forces we appreciate and glorify, such as psychological insecurity leading to search of stability. A sexbot could certainly be built with such forces; a live lady or gent could be reprogrammed with those; or, perhaps more relevantly, today's and certainly tomorrow's IT would allow one to find a spouse who already comes equipped with the perfect combination of forces to prevent a divorce.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Consider this from another angle: Soong has invented the positronic brain, and chosen the sapient android as his means of demonstrating this technology. Yet he has been ridiculed before, and is afraid of being ridiculed again - so he creates a string of perfect, impressive, fantastic androids, and declares each of them incomplete and unsuited for a debut. Indeed, he dies before he manages to build an android he wouldn't be ashamed to present to his peers.

    Would a man like this design a machine that can readily be reverse-engineered? Or would he rather use every ounce of his wit he can spare for making the task as difficult as possible?

    Data is probably built to be undecipherable more than anything else. So it takes time to undecipher him. But the UFP has managed to figure out how to do positronics, to the degree that Bashir uses them for brain prosthetics in DS9 "Life Support". I gather this sort of thing does have at least some precedent in real life...

    Timo Saloniemi