There is a big debate as to when a computer actually becomes alive. When does it develop its own consciousness? How do you know when that will be? Is it like the definition of artificial intelligence and the Turing Test – being able to fool a human into thinking they are talking to a real person? Because if that is the test, I would say that an Apple iPhone with Siri or even some of these advanced chat bots are already there.
Now then, if you interact with your personal tech device as if it is alive, and treating it as if it is alive or your own personal friend, then in a way you’ve made it alive in doing so. Yes, this is an intriguing line of philosophy and thinking, and there are two very good books I think you might like to read;
“Simulation and Its Discontents,” Sherry Turkle, MIT Press, Boston, MA, 2009, 217 pages, ISBN: 978-0-262-01270-6.
“Evocative Objects – Things We Think With” edited by Sherry Turkle, MIT Press, Boston, MA, 2007, 385 pages, ISBN: 978-0-262-20168-1.
Sherry seems to have been working on these philosophical conundrums for quite a while using her understanding of psychology to interview a multitude of different people on this topic as they use their own personal tech devices, computers, and electronic toys. She’s worked with robots that are programmed with human personality traits to really dig into where that threshold lies. That is to say when does your personal tech device, robot, or computer become alive?
Many have said that the answer is; never. But of course, there we go again as you should never say never, therefore I dare to ask you a personal question; how long until you change your mind? And, what would it take for you change your mind on this topic? If you are already talking to your iPhone as if it is a person, asking questions, and getting replies, and the more and more you have a regular conversation with it the more likely you will see it and relate with it as if it was an actual entity.
Surely, you would agree that at that particular point in time judging from our current technological advances in this space, it shouldn’t be more than a few more generations of Apple’s iPhone series. At the rate they’ve been coming out with new products that could be as close as just a few years away. Right? Thus, maybe it will be as much as five years away, but it won’t be forever, and your first answer just doesn’t jive with reality; never say never.