Watch out authors (well, maybe)

A couple of weeks ago I fell into conversation with a teacher of music. She had just purchased my book, “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” and our conversation turned to matters of creativity. I asked whether she believed that computers would ever be able to produce music of the same standard as that of Mozart and other great composers? She responded with a question of her own, “could a computer ever produce poetry of the same standard as that of the great poets?”
The above is an interesting question. There is a tendency perhaps inate in we humans to deny that something is possible merely on the grounds that it’s occurance fills us with forboding or abhorrence. However gut reactions are not (usually) the best means of answering complex questions.
As regards my own view of the matter, the simple answer is that I have no idea as to whether machines will ever be capable of producing works of artistic merit. The great advantage of we humans is that we possess emotions which are interwoven in our art whether literary, painting or musical. I suspect (and I am no scientist) that it will be easier for those working in the field of artificial intelligence to produce machines which are of similar intelligence (or perhaps exceed) that of humans. However to reproduce genuine emotion will, I suspect be a far more difficult task so intellectual pursuits may well be one of the last bastions to fall to AI. Its also perfectly possible that “true” AI will never be achieved as there is still much debate about what, exactly constitutes real intelligence, (merely because an extremely fast computer could, in the future have access to all known information and be able to process it at greater speed than a human would not make it more intelligent than mankind for intellectual abilities reside in far more than processing power).
Below is a piece of speculative fiction written by me in early 2015. As ever I would be interested in your views.


9 thoughts on “Watch out authors (well, maybe)

  1. nomnian

    I think that AI will be achieved someday, and maybe, who knows, the AIs are going to solve the emotion problem on their own. Because in theory, they would probably be a lot smarter than us, with all the speed and the knowledge of the whole internet. It will most certainly be interesting.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thank you for your comment. You may be right, however does “smart” necessarily equate with the ability to feel/express emotions? For example some individuals with high functioning autism attain the heights of academia but find it difficult to express emotions (indeed they may not feel them). For instance I know of one autistic person who had to have it explained to him that hugging one’s mother was something which should come natural to a young man. He now understands this at an intelectual level but whether he comprehends this at a (deeper) emotional level is, perhaps somewhat doubtful. Consequently a highly intelligent machine may (as with someone with high functioning autism) be able to simulate appropriate emotional responses but whether it will be “truly” emotionally aware is a different matter. (I am not saying autistic people are machines. People with autism are, of course valuable human beings worthy of respect). Kevin

      1. nomnian

        Of course. But I still like to think that it will happen. Even though it’s not very likely to. But it is definitely possible to teach a computer how to react to certain signs, like smiling, crying, etc. There are, as far as I know, already robots capable of doing so and synchronising their reactions with what they see. Of course the displayed reactions have been programmed, but if the machine was capable of rationally deciding which action to take, wouldn’t that be at least somehow comparable to emotions?

      2. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

        Perhaps you are right, or maybe it would be more akin to a clever actor or actress who simulates emotions so well one can be convinced they are really feeling them. I would never say never as history is littered with examples of people saying such and such a thing would never happen then, it happened! But, then again history is replete with ideas or predictions which sank like led balloons. Thanks for commenting, I appreciate you engaging. Best. Kevin

      3. nomnian

        No problem. But, just as a side note, it’s also possible to see emotions as sub routines, actions that happen when certain conditions are met. Therefore enabling a machine to do the same would be possible, if you invest enough time in programming. Combine that with an AIs capability to assess situations and you have something capable of reacting to the given situation. The only thing you need to keep in mind is, that unless the AI is able to

      4. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

        I am sure you are right about programming a machine so well that it can react to a given situation. The question is whether that reaction would stem from genuine emotion or from the AI’s clever programming. When we weep at the death of a loved one that does not eminate from programming but from our deep emotional attachment to the person (or much loved pet) that has died. One could programme a machine to recognise tears or a screwed up face (often a prelude to tears) and get it to react by putting a hand on the shoulder of the person exhibiting such symptoms thereby comforting them, however this would (arguably) be non-genuine in that it would flow from programming rather than stemming from inate sympathy (a desire to comfort a fellow human). Anyway its a fascinating debate which will, I feel sure run and run as even when machines do (to all intents and purposes) behave like humans (if they ever do) there will still be discussions as to whether they are really conscious in the same way as we humans are. Again, the waters will be muddied as people incorporate technology into themselves (I.E. how much of their reactions are human and how much machine generated).

      5. nomnian

        Fascinating it is! If you are interseted in fiction concerning that, by the way, I’d recommend William Gibsons “Sprawl” trilogy. His fictional future is quite nice. If you haven’t read it, that is.

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