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Jun 24, 2014

Artificial Intelligence is Inherently Amoral

I had the great opportunity this week to meet with one of the leading experts in the development of "Friendly Artificial Intelligence", a very small movement which is trying to envision how to assure human survival when computers become as intelligent and capable as humans. (a point in history of no return called the "singularity", after which humans will lose control over everything. Steve Omohundro demonstrates that even a simple chess-playing computer, if it becomes self-learning could take over the world! This is because humans have a very anthropomorphic view of intelligence. But intelligent machines would have no morality whatever. They would have no concept of "good" and would only appear to by following very specific directions. It seems entirely possible to program "goodness" until you try to do it. No one has and I contend no one can, as even no two people can determine mutual good, only specific "good" for themselves at that moment. (You can't even decide what's good for yourself from one minute to another, evidenced by changing your mind!)

But the march of progress will not stop for us to figure this out. I'm not a programmer but when those experts say they cannot create morality in machines I believe them. In fact I believe that only a vulnerable body that has the capacity to suffer can possibly act morally. We can obviously create killing machines, and we can create machines that can do simple tasks that resemble care, but we cannot create anything that actually cares and can make wise or loving decisions. I contend that is not possible outside a truly suffering body. So as we move toward a world controlled by machines, I pray for the collective wisdom to not empower them. Humans are great at finding short term solutions but lousy at envisioning long-term consequences. If we screw this one up like we've screwed up much of our world with greed and myopic vision, it will be the last mistake we make!
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.