Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Human and Machine Relationship

According to Zara Stone, “On October 25, 2017, a delicate-looking woman with doe-brown eyes and long fluttery eyelashes made international headlines.” [1] Sophia, a robot, was granted full citizenship of Saudi Arabia, the first robot in the world to achieve such a status. Sophia's announcement was a calculated publicity stunt to generate headlines. A Chinese man married a robot he built himself.[2] Companies are selling AI sex robots that integrate internet technology, interactive voice system, sensing technology, mechanical and electrical integration technology.[3] The pursuit of sexual pleasure is used as justification for the development and use of AI, and it is used for sexual purposes. AI started to become better with the use of machine learning techniques. The recent AI boom is triggered by the use of the deep learning technique, a type of machine learning that trains a computer to perform tasks that are typically done by humans. It includes speech recognition, image identification, and predictive analysis. The data is not organized to run through predefined equations. The deep learning sets up basic parameters about the data and is used to train the computer to learn on its own by recognizing patterns using many layers of processing. Many practical applications of AI came to the mainstream as a result of the use of deep learning techniques.[4] The topic of posthumanism and transhumanism are important in AI discussions. Scott A. Midson discusses this topic and states,

Closer analysis of the teleology of transhumanism, however, reveals a concrete vision of the movement that can be regarded as slightly yet significantly different to the undergirding substantive interpretation of the human. While this foundational assumption of human nature can be used to link Christianity, humanism and transhumanism, the transhumanist vision of the future reveals a more nuanced understanding of the human that may compete with the Christian eschatological vision.[5]

The ultimate goal of transhumanists is to use technology to bring a mostly humancentric utopia in which humans are fundamentally changed and may not be regarded as humans in the sense it is understood today.

Noreen L. Herzfeld addresses the issue of the human and computer relationship. If robots turn toward humans and elicit from humans a relational response, does this constitute an authentic human-computer relationship? While robots may engage their human counterparts in speech, it is quite clear that they cannot engage in the reciprocal self-declaration for real encounters. Moreover, Herzfeld states that “mutual aid and intentionality remain distant dreams. Any relationality that humans exhibit toward computers in their current state of development is mere projection and anthropomorphism, no different than the fact that many people talk to their cars or become angry at desktop monitors when the system crashes.” [6] Everyone recognizes in their hearts that these are not authentic relationships, and these are not real.

The human-computer relationships will never be analogous to, nor an adequate substitute for, human-human relationships because humans and computers lack the common ground of a relationship with God on which to meet. A relationship with God provides the basis for a mutual self-disclosure and aid that can be understood and accepted.

[1] Zara Stone, “Everything You Need to Know About Sophia, The World's First Robot Citizen,” Forbes, November 7, 2017, accessed October 29, 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zarastone/2017/11/07/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sophia-the-worlds-first-robot-citizen/#1367f7ec46fa.    

[2] “Chinese man 'marries' robot he built himself,” The Guardian, April 4, 2017, accessed October 29, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/04/chinese-man-marries-robot-built-himself.

[3] “About Us,” Robot Companion, accessed October 30, 2019, https://www.robotcompanion.ai/about-us.

[4] Michael Copeland, “What’s the Difference Between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning?” NVIDIA, July 29, 2016, accessed October 29, 2019, https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2016/07/29/whats-difference-artificial-intelligence-machine-learning-deep-learning-ai.

[5] Scott A Midson, Cyborg Theology: Humans, Technology and God (London: I.B. Tauris, 2018), 76.

[6] Herzfeld, In Our Image: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Spirit, 91.

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