Where My Cylons At?


Adam (pictured above), from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a hybrid biological/cybernetic killing machine.

Much of my research recently following the completion of my Master’s thesis has been on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The crux of my arguments and study over AI is that the fear we have over the development of true artificial intelligence is unfounded and that with the incorporation of human intelligence into artificial and networked systems necessarily involves the incorporation the incorporation of human culture as well. This article by John Horgan in Scientific American reveals the other side of my argument: that the scary Borg-style robots that take over the world are also possible. It may be a long way off and certainly DARPA’s research into brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) is not really equivalent to creating a cylon but the implications and possibilities of a military-focused approach to AI research are worrisome, to say the least, and are proof that the fears many people have about creating an artificial life form aren’t going away anytime soon.

My research is admittedly more utopian-leaning, looking for ways we can integrate AI into humanity, rather than supplant it. A militarized research process suggests more of a bent towards control, which will ultimately lead to a struggle between man and machine, rather than a harmony. Putting this research into the hands of the military-industrial complex ensures that the relationship between humanity and the posthuman will be in the interest of the military-industrial complex and not in the interest of the people. Hence the importance of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. One thing is for sure: if we are going to go into the new realm of artificial intelligence and the posthuman, bioethics, digital ethics and related fields cannot be overlooked. If this is the age of the coder, the engineer and the technologist, then it must also be the age of the philosopher, the ethicist and the humanist.

My personal research is just beginning and I hope to share more of it via this blog and my Twitter account. AI is complicated stuff, though and I’m just beginning to get my feet wet. If this kind of stuff interests you, stay tuned.