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The singularly...important ethical quandary.

These articles chopping up the so called ethical issues of more autonomous systems are often very silly. Every new technology brings with it new patterns of human behavior around those technologies that probe different aspects of human interaction.

It has been so from the invention of fire onward...the question is are the new set of questions worth dealing with compared to the old set that existed prior  the invention of the new technology?

In a world of self driving cars, few drunks who drive consistently due to alcoholism will be able to cause the deaths of others on the road...the elimination of that landscape of possibility due to the new technology far out weigh in my view any other issue that is pointed out by those attempting to analyze ethically a world filled with  such vehicles.

The same I am sure was asked of the use of electric power during the build up of the nation to bury hot lines in the streets and hover them on pole after pole all over the world. I can imagine the discussions that raved in 1880 news papers over the pending "electrification" of the landscape...the potential for deaths at the hands at the new technology!!!!

Yet, here we are...130 years hence and no one is going nuts over the fact that the power grid enables the possibility of electrification and in fact succeeds in delivering it to many people by accident on a yearly basis because the landscape of productivity and increased human potential we have under this electrified world is far safer than it ever was before...when so much of the stuff we need done we had to do by our own labor...risking an order of magnitude MORE physical risks in the doing.

It is important to weigh the merits of the respective landscapes of ethical consideration before and after deployment of some new technology and once done end the debate in favor of moving forward toward the direction that softens rather than exacerbates the issues over time.

I can think of only one technology that has had neutral to negative consequences in its creation and utilization and that is nuclear technology. It has shown both in the military case it was pursued for outside of pure research and in the consumer case it has been used in terms of nuclear power plants to be simply not worth the effort.

The 3 mile islands, the Chernobyl's and the Fukashima's extract disproportionate pain for the incremental gain such plants provide in terms of power to older technologies...and now that green technologies with infinite extraction potential are quickly achieving parity ...the tech has no defensible pragmatic reason d'etre.

As for the further deployment of even more intelligent systems beyond simply real time reactive systems like self driving cars, to creation of artificial cognition now there is a reason to give pause.

I've argued that we would be fools to rush head long into attempts to create fully self aware systems without fully understanding the parameters of psychological stability that will be necessary to enable such intelligent systems to coexist with humans. The question of how we avoid the creation or even the possibility of making HAL or SkyNet is a really important one. Sadly with so many so ignorant about the parameters of the mental landscape that could be created by their artificial cognitive agents should they succeed it means we might be barreling down the road to our own doom.

In my research in this space I've advocated careful understanding of the importance of applying emotional modulation to such systems. I've argued as a result that we must create some simulacrum of emotional import in these systems that is aligned with empathetic correlates to human desires and goals...if we don't we play Russian roulette with the ability for such cognitive elements to roam over terrain in the possibility landscape that is not amenable to human survival.

Recently, astronomers released an estimate based on new data regarding the number of possible Earth like planets in the Galaxy within their wet or habitable zones that numbered around 12 billion planets. What percentage of that number emerged complex beings of some biological nature that then went on or are going on to create artificial intelligence in their image but are missing the mark...creating instead a new order of beings with desires disconnected from their makers...and given the reigns to society the potential to end them?? How many have already been ended, this indeed for me is the most important ethical question of our time.


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