Dear Little Bobby: Sentient Robots?
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Dear Little Bobby,
Do you think humans should be creating androids? Since it seems inevitable, will you allow your consciousness to be downloaded into a robot?
Sure, wait! What? I was looking at my phone while I was reading your question, so I missed some of it. I think you asked about artificial intelligence. Sentient robots.
Maybe it is inevitable. However, I am not so sure about being able to transfer a consciousness within my lifetime. If it is, if it is possible to put “me” into a machine, I sure as hell might do that, AFTER my golden years, after I have nearly worn this flesh out. I can see lots of benefits. With several, very big BUTs.
Where is the flower?
I have seen enough episodes of “Star Trek” to know that this would have the potential for lots of issues. Androids are one thing, but transferring a consciousness could mean so many things. Does it mean the brain? The mind? The soul? All of the above?
More importantly, in order to put “me” or “you” into a machine, we would have to know what “me” and “you” are. One of the lessons taught at the Kadampa Buddhist center I attend is that the “self” is non-existent. There is no “me” or “you” that can be picked up and put into a machine. In fact, there is no “me” or “you” at all. But it sure does seem like you exist huh? It seems like I exist too, but we are not separate things. We are each a constantly evolving, ever changing collective.
If I pick up a flower and show it to you saying Where is the flower? you might point at the thing in my hand. What if I pull the petals off and they are blown away by the wind? Where is the flower? In the wind or the parts left in my hand? And if I pull those parts apart, where is the flower? It is counterintuitive to our ego, but the same logic which shows that a flower is only a flower because of our perception, also applies to our body and our mind.
Things are made of other things, which are in turn made of other things…none of them actually exist. Yet our egos tell us that not only do we exist, we are incredibly important. At least that mindset is true for many people. The effects of this attachment to our non-existent selves are plentiful. Lots of negative results happen from our attachment to our minds and bodies. Greed, hunger, war, and much more. We value ourselves above others. We value our family and friends above people we do not know.
To put it simply, if someone blew up your mother’s house, it would greatly affect you, yet as US drone strike after US drone strike kill innocent children, women, and men on the other side of the planet, there is NOT even a collective “Oh shit, we better change our FB profile photos to ‘help.'”
I like my flesh and blood just fine for now. As it ages, it will be even more apparent that I am not it. In very old age, I would be just fine putting my mind into a robot…if I had a one. That is, if I had a mind OR a robot. Even if I had those two things, that technology is many lifetimes away.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“I am that, thou art that, all this is that” —The Beach Boys, “All This Is That,” 1972
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