Where does humanity end and artificial intelligence start? Does intelligence need emotions? Will robots ever be self-replicating, thus replacing humans? Where does a human end and a cyborg begin? With a prosthetic leg, spectacles, or the notepaper used by someone to record their thoughts and thus relieve their brain? These are some of the questions asked in the new issue of Ord&Bild.
The fact that 4000 semi-autonomous robots were used during the Iraq-war gives Christopher Kullenberg the creeps. "Some have peaceful tasks, such as defusing mines and bombs, others are armed with weapons. [...] They act on human orders." The prediction of Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robot-technique, frightens him: "The next step will be fully autonomous robots where the decision-making ability is completely delegated to a machine. [...] In the near future we will be seeing machines taking decisions about who shall be a victim and who shall survive."
Androids: Andrés Stoopendaal returns to Masahiro Mori's model of the "uncanny valley" to discover why humans find androids so eerie. "As long as the object looks sufficiently unlike a human, its human characteristics appear uncomplicated and create empathy. But when the object seems almost completely human, its inhuman features appear in a different light and create a feeling of strangeness in the human observer." Yet the belief that in the future robots will be superior to humans is firmly anchored in industry and the academic world, notes Stoopendaal. The more anthropomorphic the design, the more questions surrounding their humanity will become central.
Also: Stefan Svallfors writes about experiments by Ernst Fehr in Zurich, suggesting that evolutionary programming has developed the human brain towards a capacity for reciprocity rather than self-interest. This has a two-way effect on politics and society, writes Svallfors. "Our perception of what one, as part of the society, should expect is to a large extent formed by the political institutions we have shaped. [...] The way institutions work forms our view of what is possible and what is worth aiming for."
The full table of contents of Ord&Bild 5/2008