Author Topic: Pet babies  (Read 1842 times)

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Offline TinaG

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Pet babies
« on: September 13, 2007, 09:04:43 AM »
Found this on the BBC news this morning.  Now I'm about as sci geek as it gets, but there is something so disturbing about this.   Pet babies, how convenient and low maintenance.  Can't you just picture the school health classes 15 or 20 years from now.  No need to carry around an egg or a sack of flour wrapped in a diaper for your parenting project, now you just get an intelligent avatar.  I have a feeling we won't recognize the humanity and image of God in humans before too long. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6992613.stm
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2007, 03:17:58 PM »
This is actually talking about virtual babies, not pet babies. The players of this game would raise a child in the virtual world. This is not unlike the Nintendogs or other such AI programs. Actually, if we could simulate the human mind in the virtual world, it would be a big leap forward; currently we only possess the technology to simulate intelligent animals' minds.

Perhaps we disagree here, but I see nothing dehumanizing about this.
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline TinaG

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2007, 04:30:28 PM »
This is actually talking about virtual babies, not pet babies. The players of this game would raise a child in the virtual world. This is not unlike the Nintendogs or other such AI programs. Actually, if we could simulate the human mind in the virtual world, it would be a big leap forward; currently we only possess the technology to simulate intelligent animals' minds.

Perhaps we disagree here, but I see nothing dehumanizing about this.

Oh I realize pet babies is a bit of a mischaracterization, but it just doesn't seem right.  Scientific research and knowledge is one thing, but paying Linden $$ so you and your virtual spouse can have a cute baby just doesn't seem to fit with Orthodox family values.  Do you think our hierarchs will soon have to deal with the ethics of VR lives?  VR marital affairs, VR murder, VR porn.

I realize what this project means for AI development, but maybe I'm not as progressive as I'd like to think.  I've always been a sci and sci-fi nut, but when you start to see the first little steps towards future technology, it feels like we're leaving something behind.  Extrapolate VR and AI 20, 50 or 100 years and our world won't even be recognizable.  (You can tell I just finished reading Years's Best SF 11 and 12 -lots of short stories on AI gone wrong, planetary disaster, enhanced humans, etc...)

And strictly as a sidenote Ytterbiumanalyst, have you ever thought of a pronunciation guide for your screen name?   ;)  I am totally stumped everytime I see your posts.  It must be something very creatively obvious or I'm just a moron. 
On the spiritual path somewhere between the Simpsons and St. Theophan the Recluse, but I still can't see the Springfield city limits sign yet.

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2007, 04:51:45 PM »

And strictly as a sidenote Ytterbiumanalyst, have you ever thought of a pronunciation guide for your screen name?   ;)  I am totally stumped everytime I see your posts.  It must be something very creatively obvious or I'm just a moron. 

Just call him Y.  ;)
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Offline John of the North

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2007, 05:00:32 PM »
I-tterbium.

He must be a chem nerd. :P
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Offline EofK

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2007, 09:08:26 AM »
He must be a chem nerd. :P

Nope, just a normal nerd who's read too many dictionaries.   ;D :P :-*

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Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. -- Douglas Adams

Offline TinaG

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 10:23:48 AM »
I like Mr. Y.  Sounds sort of like a bad James Bond character.
On the spiritual path somewhere between the Simpsons and St. Theophan the Recluse, but I still can't see the Springfield city limits sign yet.

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 10:29:33 AM »
Y-not?
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 09:11:45 PM »
Nope, just a normal nerd who's read too many dictionaries.   ;D :P :-*

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Yeah, I'd call myself a language nerd actually. I love bizarre words, and ytterbium is about as bizarre as I've seen.

Do you think our hierarchs will soon have to deal with the ethics of VR lives?  VR marital affairs, VR murder, VR porn.
They already do. What do you think porn is?
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens

Offline GiC

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 09:29:45 PM »
Well, everyone here probably knows my take on this matter, but in that light...

This is not the destroying of the 'divine image' in humanity, but rather the imbuing of machines with the divine image...that is to say with reason, self-consciousness, intelligence. Sure, we're a long ways off from creating machines that are the intellectual equals of humans, but the day will come. Then the day will come when they surpass us and we must either evolve with them or be destroyed. Of course, I fail to see how this is a bad thing, this is how evolution works, it will force us to move from our stagnant form if we wish to survive. The rise of the machine will not be the apocalypse, rather it will be the fulfillment of humanity.

I guess I am quite progressive on these matters, even radically so...I follow developments in AI religiously, scan the news for developments in processor technology, I have the DARPA challenges marked on my calendar, and, yes, I even keep up on the research of Kevin Warwick. So my opinions are probably a bit skewed the opposite way of Tina's, but I cannot see how scientific and technological advancement could possibly be a bad thing.
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Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Pet babies
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 09:48:27 PM »
I cannot see how scientific and technological advancement could possibly be a bad thing.
That's been obvious from the first post of yours I read. Yet in all things we have the capacity for good or evil, to love others or to love ourselves. If in AI, we learn to love others, to appreciate difference and to care more for the well-being of others than for ourselves, AI could be a help in salvation. If we choose only to make things like ourselves and to become focused inward, self-centred and unconcerned for anyone else, AI could harm the soul. It is just like anything else the Lord has given us the capacity to create.

Intelligence is not worth (though I do not think I can convince you of this), and Tina brings up a great point about how many people would rather live a virtual life than a real one. After all, if it's only lines of code, I don't have to care about its feelings or desires. Such things are only what I program them to be. However, people have always struggled with fantasy; it was not merely since the invention of this wonderful device I am using right now that people learned to detach themselves from reality to form their own self-centred worlds. Pornography is such a detachment; it is a way of getting pleasure without having to think about others' feeling or desires, a way of inventing a self-centred world.

God has given us the ability to create, and when we create children with a distinct personality and free will, it is a beautiful and salvific thing. But when we create self-seeking worlds to escape from the hard work of life, there is danger. Entertainment is fine; I personally enjoy computer games, books, and other such diversions. But we must be careful to put others first; after all, Jesus Christ dwells within them, so whatever treatment we give to others we are also giving to Him.
"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens