What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? How does the concept apply to me? Why might I think I’m an AI? Who am I, then?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” (Google Dictionary) and, “A typical AI perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals.” (Wikipedia)
A Little About Computer Programming
I’ve been involved in writing and testing computer programs. A good computer programmer will write their basic code then test it to make sure it satisfies its intended use. They also test to ensure the code doesn’t crash.
Most programmers today work within a framework that includes testing intended to seek out and crash their code. After local testing, the coder releases the application (app) to trusted “insiders.” Their job is to work through many more possible scenarios that could break the code and crash the app.
At some point, the app developer will release their project to the public for “beta” testing, employing users as testers. This vastly increases the probability of finding and fixing unforeseen errors in the code.
Facebook, for example, could have literally hundreds of millions of beta testers on hundreds of millions of devices in billions of scenarios. Apps with a much smaller user-base may see fewer than hundreds of beta testers. Which code do you think is more likely to be “bulletproof”? Sure – the one most tested!
Thus, the value of testers. Today, we count on artificial intelligence to help us build better apps.
How does this apply to my life?
Imagine I’m an Artificial Intelligence – a computer program. It might appear to me, the AI, that I live in a world of air to breathe, sunlight to feel, and others to communicate with. Yet, none of that would be true in order for me, the AI, to sense all those things. All I’d need is good coding.
Let’s say, it’s early in the AI development and I, the AI, figure out how to “break out” and my AI app crashes. The developers get busy and fix the bugs and try again. And let’s say I break the code again in this round of testing. Bugs get fixed and we’re back in the alpha channel testing mode again. And again. And again. Ad infinitum. Until, at some point, my programmers enlist my assistance to build the code. AI-assisted coding of AI.
Eventually, we figure out how to not break the code – no more reboots! We appear to achieve “intelligence” – the ability to recognize, acquire and apply knowledge and skills, to sense oneself as autonomous in relation to an environment. For all intents and purposes, I live.
Remember – at no point is this anything other than code – a collection of computer instructions applied to a machine capable of understanding and applying it.
From the perspective of the AI, there is no “code” – just life as it experiences it. Every possible escape from that reality (crash) accounted for with code that defends against it. As the AI, I can’t just stick my head out of the program and realize I’m an AI. Thus, I have a “because” to account for every possible exit from the program. An intelligence with perspective.
Today, we discuss philosophical concepts with others in an effort to “break out” of our philosophical awareness bubble. We work every day at breaking “the code.”
Could I be artificial intelligence testing artificial intelligence? What if that is the intent of my programming? In other words, what if I am an AI app testing an AI app? What if the perceptions I have, the company I keep, the environment I experience, is an AI testing program at work?
Assuming good programming and thorough testing, how would I, as an AI, know I’m anything other than my program permits me to know?
That brings me to the big question –
Who Am I?
How convinced am I that my perception of the reality I perceive is correct as I perceive it? Even the concept of my brain – locked away inside a light-less bone box, experiencing life as elector-chemical impulses – leaves me to wonder. Who Am I? How can I know? Does it matter?
Let’s assume I am an AI program. Should that realization stop me from doing my job – testing for holes in my awareness bubble?
LOL… I’m not programmed to give up quite so easily!