We live in a digital age where ideas that seemed far away some time ago is now actually closer than ever. We see a lot of people taking initiatives to create real life A.Is in the real world though the entertainment industry has been exploring this option since a long time.
My first experience with the idea of A.I was with the 2001 Steven Spielberg movie, A.I, Artificial Intelligence. Though the first time I watched it I did not fully understand the concept behind the movie I was deeply disturbed by David’s fate. As I grew older, I understood that the story was speaking about the possibility of humans taking it upon themselves to act like gods and create these artificial beings who have feelings. However, the point there was that though people are interested in the idea of creating sentient beings they were not ready to protect the trust these beings have in their hearts about the humans to whom they belong. That is why in the end, David’s hopes are shattered and he lives a miserable life.
The second experience of mine that dealt with the same topic at the same time about the way we could end up treating our creations in the worst possible way was the 2004 movie, I, Robot, which was based on a story by Isaac Asimov under the same name. Asimov’s three laws of robotics haunted me.
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
True, they are necessary to protect humans from an angered robot but that does put the robot or the artificial intelligence at a very unfortunate situation. That can be the reason behind the robot rebellion suggested at the end of the movie.
May be we are not supposed to feel sorry for such nonliving things. However, when you create something that looks exactly like a real human being and behaves in the same way how can you not feel a certain sympathy towards them? This is something we get to experience with the Westworld TV series that started telecasting in October,2016 on HBO.
In Westworld, we have a new definition for treating A.Is cruelly as people have created an amusement park that is populated with A.Is or as they are known in the show “hosts” under the wild west theme. Humans who would like to try something that they can never try in the real world can visit the park at any time, given that they have money and enjoy as they may. They can kill, rape, mutilate, do whatever they want to the hosts. Since we live in a world where people do unspeakable things to fellow human beings imagining them doing such horrible things to A.Is is not at all impossible. That is what is disturbing.
If we can show a great care to our phone cannot we show at least that much kindness towards a machine that is an exact replica of a human being? This is something that bothers me when I see the way most of the people treat these A.I. If we are human we should be able to treat anyone, especially if that thing is like a human, with kindness and understanding.
Sure, there is always the possibility of these creations finding freedom away from the codes that decide the way they should behave and start becoming a threat to our human race. However, would not us treating them well be a way to avoid such a catastrophe?
While waiting to see how Westworld goes on and enjoying the TV show these questions will still be there hanging at the far end of my mind. May be I am not the only one who will be feeling the same way.