Future Foglets of the Hive Mind

By: Michelle Ewens

Utility fog is a concept that was introduced by nanotech¶s pioneer Josh Storrs Hall in 1993. Recently, Hall pointed out that swarm robots are the closest thing we have to utility fog. This brings the concept a little bit closer to reality. For instance, Dr. James McLurkin of MIT demonstrated his 112 swarm robots at the Idea Fest in Louisville Kentucky. They communicated with one another and operated as a cohesive unit to complete a task. Currently, some swarm robots can self-assemble and replicate themselves. These ³dinosaurs´ of future foglets measure about 4.5 inches in diameter. With time it is possible that self-replicating robots will be sized down to the nano-particle level and their intelligence will increase to carry out missions which humans are either unwilling or unable to perform themselves. This is only the beginning in technological advancements toward the creation of foglets. In the beginning, there was an idea to create foglets. The word spread through the collective mind of all the people who believed in the possibility that such a creation was possible. Ideas may begin as original inventions of the mind, but once distributed they can eventually connect many people together and cause them to generate the same interests, goals, and beliefs. It¶s an enjoyable state to be in as long as the task of the hive mind benefits all of its members. ³No man is an island´ John Donne said so eloquently. People are happiest when they

feel connected and when they feel like they are serving a useful purpose. This is group consciousness at its best. When a group works together as a whole to achieve a common goal, the results are greatly multiplied. When humans are forced to serve a group whose members are not benefited in some way, rebelliousness may emerge in the form of individuality. The desire to break away from the group causes suffering to the individual and can potentially harm the group who loses its dissenting member. If the rebel distributes original ideas which spread throughout the group, those new memes can alter its course. If a future foglet ever become conscious enough to dissent from its assigned task and spread new information to the hive mind, it may cause the foglets to deviate from the assigned task. This could result in the much dreaded scenario of grey goo. Eric Drexler now resents the term grey goo which he presented in Engines of Creation since it is often hyped to conjure up fears of an apocalypse where man vs. robot. Don¶t worry, I¶ll spare you the paranoiac rants on that topic. The issue that I will raise in this article is how to approach the creation of foglets from an ethical standpoint. Robots that are programmed to obey us blindly raise the ethical question: What is the moral justification for creating sentient life which cannot exercise freedom? Should we attempt to create artificial group intelligence in a manner which resembles what we would wish for ourselves when our creator first set out to create life here on earth? One atheist perspective maintains that the problem with believing in a creator implies that if God exists then he knows how to prevent all suffering. If such a God ever existed, then we would expect him to have prevented his creatures from being harmed. The fact is that the natural world is filled with suffering, so either God does not care, or he didn¶t have the foresight to prevent human and animal suffering when he first decided to create life on earth. The atheist concludes that there is no God, since a reasonably intelligent creator would not create such a

world where life forms operate instinctively to serve some selective purpose. An intelligent creator would not allow his creatures to suffer unless he was a sadist. Since humans will be the creators of artificial group intelligence, we should at least try to imagine what the future holds in store for foglets. In order to prevent our creations from suffering in the future we may need to enact a code of conduct which examines the ethics of creating artificial intelligence. These laws will need to be written from the perspectives of the creator as well as the creations. In order for artificial life to be considered intelligent, it must be aware of its environment and learn how to interact with it. There is no learning without some sort of mental interaction or feeling. If one is conscious, and if learning takes place, it stands to reason that emotions can arise out of a sense of duty to perform a task and desire to remain alive. While foglets may resemble bees or ants on the animal scale now, they may achieve a higher intellectual capability in the future when their tasks require them to perform more complex problem-solving missions. Foglets will have to be somewhat creative in order to complete various tasks such as retrieving missing persons, battling terrorists, and reading minds. Those that are used for human behavioral modification may develop the mental capacity which would allow them to feel what other people feel. This is one of the ethical considerations that should be addressed in the laws for creating AI. The ethical question of how we should treat artificial intelligence in general is a topic of debate which will need to be seriously addressed, but for now let¶s just examine group consciousness and how it relates to the hive mind as this will be the basis for artificial group intelligence.

The Milgram Experiment demonstrating group think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2PGnHHnRMk http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/aglabor/7article/article35.htm

Groupthink is a psychological term which describes the behavior of individuals in a group who adhere to a common ideology or belief system. Often times these individuals make faulty decisions based on group pressures, but overall this mindset makes the group more effective in serving the agenda of the group. While groupthink often leads to a deterioration of ³mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment´ as noted by Janis Irving, the research psychologist who studied the phenomenon, these mental deficiencies actually strengthen the group¶s core. Moral reasoning, and creative thinking may empower the individual, but it does not always serve the group. In fact it may have just the opposite effect. In the hypothetical case of artificial group intelligent robots infiltrating an enemy base, moral reasoning on behalf of the foglets can be detrimental to the program. Those who are affected by groupthink ignore alternatives to standard beliefs and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize foreign groups. While some cultures honor forms of group consciousness and see individuality as being harmful to the harmony of the group, humanity as a whole may be better served if individualism was more tolerated and groupthink was minimized. Individuals are especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules

for decision making. For these reasons it is especially important that creators of AI or artificial group intelligence have a clear set of rules to follow when setting out to create foglets. These laws or ethical standards should be purposed by a diverse group of people who continuously exchange ideas so that corrupted groupthink will be minimized. Some of the symptoms of groupthink, as described by Irving include the following:

1. Illusion of invulnerability ±Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks. 2. Collective rationalization ± Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.

3. Beliefs in inherent morality ± Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. 4. Stereotyped views of out-groups ± Negative views of ³enemy´ make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.

5. Direct pressure on dissenters ± Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group¶s views.

Scientists who discount warnings and do not reconsider assumptions made in the area of artificial intelligence are engaging in groupthink behavior and should be questioned about their intentions to create AI foglets. While foglets may be unable to contemplate moral issues, those that program them should attempt to analyze the ethical consequences of creating such artificial life. In the past ten years the United States government spent billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Beginning in 2001, the annual federal budget for this field of science was 494 million dollars. In 2010 the budget grew to 1.64 billion.

The United States is making nanotechnology a priority because it has major implications for national security. DARPA recently funded a research program to create an artificial brain. Groupthink will certainly play a part in implementing foglets to battle the ³enemy´. Will this benefit the greatest number of people in the world? Or, will it cause further division within humanity? Cooperation is a noble human trait. Ideally it is achieved through tolerance, but more often it is promoted when people deny their individuality out of a sense of duty for the group. The military will most likely seek to serve its national interests rather than seek to benefit the majority of the people in the world. Granting militant groupthink tanks full access to such technology will most likely be more dangerous to humanity than grey goo.

Foglets may exacerbate human group consciousness in ways which cause harm to some groups while benefiting others. How the foglets will view their life is one ethical concern, but a more direct impact they have on the intellectual progress on humanity may be cause for concern since foglets can be used to serve the ³evil´ nature of man. Humanity is not currently viewed as a whole. It is comprised of subgroups which promote specific national, religious, and political interests which vary across the globe. Foglets which serve these groups will likely cause the further separation of humanity. One way to prevent this division is to reject all forms of groupthink prior to creating foglets in order to ensure that they do not inherit a corrupt hive mind. The aim of transhumanism is to overcome human nature through self-transformation. This is a psychological process of integrating the body and mind so that the end result produces a more virtuous human being, free from societal restraints or cultural belief systems, and completely self-directed. In describing the individuation process, psychologist Carl Jung said,

³Every individual needs revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing these things upon his neighbours under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility or any of the other beautiful euphemisms for unconscious urges to personal power´. Groupthink leads to ³deindividuation´ which is an immersion into a group to the point where the individual ceases exercise his higher faculties. Deindividuation

theory states that in the crowd the collective mind takes possession of the individual. The individual submerged in the crowd loses self-control and becomes a mindless puppet and is capable of performing any act, however malicious or heroic. The Lucifer Effect and Milgram experiments are classic examples of deindividuation.

While some may argue that human actions should benefit the greatest number of people, we have to take into consideration just who are the majority. We should use some discernment in how we serve the group we work for whether it be the government, a corporation, or a religious organization. We need to consider the motives of the group we are serving and ask if serves all of humanity or just the group. Will foglets ever have the capacity to use such discernment? Since humanity is not a cohesive unit now, it is unlikely that foglets will act as a cohesive unit which will serve all of humanity. When the time comes where humanity is united as a whole, then foglets may work in harmony with the hive mind, and will not be subjugated to our corrupted forms of groupthink. Creating artificial group consciousness through the transhumanist hive mind will be ideal because here we will be integrated into one whole unit.

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