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Homo sum, humani panton a me alienum puto
Kim Lindgren email@example.com
1 The human subroutine 2 Inﬁnite thought in inﬁnite combination 3 A virtual world 4 Can something created by humans be considered alive? 5 Creating life 1 2 3 4 5
List of Figures
1 2 A complete neuron cell diagram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A simpliﬁed ﬂowchart of inter-process communication inside the virtual world . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3
December 3, 2007
Copyright 2007 (C) Kim Lindgren - Sharing of this document is allowed, given that you follow the restrictions set up by the: Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
Abstract For the longest time it has been the dream of many to create an artiﬁcial life, an artiﬁcial intelligence. It has been the subject of countless discussions and ﬁlms. By some it is seen as an opportunity to advance our knowledge, and explore areas that are unreachable to man, by others as an apocalypse waiting to happen. For me, it is the best way for us to learn about ourselves. In order to create artiﬁcial life, we need ﬁrst to understand what it is that we want to replicate.
The human subroutine
There are many active projects with the goal to create Artiﬁcial Intelligence. Many of these projects are impressive, but they all lack in some areas: 1. Personality: All bots1 in themselves act diﬀerently. Mainly because their creators designed them diﬀerently. But all bots running on the same code are the same, therefore; they lack personality. They should be able to develop individually. 2. Flexibility: At the moment, AI is limited in the way that it can not think of things on its own. Every ”thought” it expresses originates from a diﬀerent source, for example: a user, or the creator. This behaviour can be simulated by using keywords or randomization to access certain predeﬁned behaviour. True AI should be able to think on its own. 3. Flaws: As in human ﬂaws, not ﬂaws in the design of AI. No human is perfect, and thus AI can never truly act human unless it has the same ﬂaws as humans. When creating AI, our goal should be to get rid of the ”A”. As long as our goal is to create Artiﬁcial Intelligence, that is exactly what we will get: Artiﬁcial Intelligence. Humans have the tendency to glorify themselves. Therefore our ﬂaws are never included in the code. Our goal should be to recreate intelligence, not the feeling of it. Of course, the meaning of Flaw could be discussed. What I am referring to are personality traits that are generally regarded as illogical and useless in modern society, such as: nervosity, anxiety and stress. Depending on your convictions, the word could be taken to even higher levels, and incorporate every single emotion. However, I would not go to such extreme lengths, since I believe that many traits are highly signiﬁcant
I use bots as an example, since there are several in use today, and many that anyone can talk to.
to the stability of our world. No mater how you see it, the behaviour of AI should be indistinguishable from real humans, if we ever expect it to gain popularity and wide-spread use in any area that requires communication with actual people.
Inﬁnite thought in inﬁnite combination
One of the biggest obstacles in obtaining full AI is the raw computing power needed. We simply do not have computers that can match the speed of the human brain, and our current technology does not allow the creation of such machines (that are not ridiculously large). This is not to say that it is impossible, after all, our brain works so why shouldn’t a computer be able to do the same? In my opinion, the best way to achieve full AI is to ﬁrst understand our own brain and then replicate it. Unlike the transistors of the computer, the synapses in the brain can be more than just active and passive (0 and 1).
Figure 1: A complete neuron cell diagram A synapse consists of the ends of two nerve cells facing each other, with a gap that is about 20 nm wide. When a nerve impulse reaches the postsynaptic nerve-terminal2 a neurotransmitter is rapidly secreted though a process known as exocytosis3 (small vesicles containing the neurotransmitter merge with the cell membrane, releasing it into the gap between the cells),
the ﬁrst nerve cell This is refering to Chemical synapses
which is then intercepted by receptors on the post-synaptic cell. When the neurotransmitter is intercepted, the cell opens ion-channels releasing ions in or out of the cell, changing its transmembrane potential (the diﬀerence in potential across the cells membrane), this change is called a post-synaptic potential. Depending on which neurotransmitter is released the eﬀect to the post-synaptic potential can be eigter exitatory or inhibitory (Diﬀerently charged ions can be released). ACh4 can be used as an example of an exitatory neurotransmitter and GABA5 as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Furthermore, to create full AI, I believe that we must ﬁrst mimic the behaviour of synapses in the brain and then divide the computers system into something equivalent to the lobes of the brain.
A virtual world
A possibly useful experiment on our way to the form of brain mimicking that I wrote about in the previous section, would be to create a virtual world, with very basic creatures that run separately, but interact with each other. Every creature would be an individual process, but also tied to a server that handles and relays all information. Natural resources, such as trees and other plants (i.e. a source of food that means no killing of other creatures) would also be managed by the server. The server would represent the planet.
Figure 2: A simpliﬁed ﬂowchart of inter-process communication inside the virtual world In the virtual world, no process would directly communicate with another, they can only directly receive information from the server, which
Acetylcholine Gamma-aminobutyric acid
means that the server could be used to simulate diﬀerent scenarios for the world. For example, one creature could turn blind and therefore no longer receive any ”visual” information, thus giving it new boundaries and forcing it to act diﬀerently. In this experiment, the individual processes could even be made to reproduce and create new processes that are slightly diﬀerent from the previous ones, simulating the process of evolution. The server could be used to introduce new bits of code (to simulate mutation) under diﬀerent circumstances, thus each new generation could be slightly diﬀerent. The creatures in the virtual world would be very basic, acting only on an equivalent to instinct, but when they are all combined the system would become quite advanced. The server should be written to work eﬀectively with system resources, preferably in a high level programming language, such as C or C++, but the creatures would have to be written in a scripting language so that they could re-write themselves (and reproduce), Python would be ideal for this task. A stable resource friendly Operative System would also have to be used, Linux, FreeBSD or Solaris would prove useful in that respect. After this experiment is deemed successful the same principle could be used to imitate a human brain. Each creature would represent a brain cell and the server would in this case represent a lobe in the brain. Several servers would run simultaneously, preferably on individual machines, communicating with each other, much like the individual cells. When this method is used for this task, contrary to the creatures in the previous example, the cells could be written in the same programming language as the server, since braincells are (almost) never replaced. When our technology advances to a high enough level the creatures/cells could be replaced by very small machines that mimic the behaviour of cells as well as possible. By combining these small machines in a way similar to that of the human brain we should be able to eﬀectively mimic a complete human brain.
Can something created by humans be considered alive?
This is a strictly philosophical question. The answer will vary, depending on who you ask. My answer would however be: Yes! It all boils down to your own personal mindset and deﬁnition of life. For example, religious people may deﬁne life as something created by a god, or perhaps something that originates from nature. Its also a matter of where you draw the line, for example: If we where to replace a part of a persons brain with a computer, without aﬀecting his personality (just adding some extra ”computing power”), would he still be alive? Most would argue that 4
he would be. In the same fashion, people that require a prostheses are considered alive by most. It is hard to scientiﬁcally deﬁne life, but we can generally cut the criteria down to these characteristics: 1. Metabolism: Can produce energy and provide building blocks for itself by breaking down non-living material and decomposing organic material. 2. Growth: Living things can utilize available materials to add to themselves. 3. Adaptation: The ability to change in accordance to the environment. The ability to evolve. 4. Responds to stimuli: Living things can respond to stimulation, usually expressed by movement. 5. Reproduction: The ability to create new similar creatures. I believe that we should be able to reprodude all of these conditions using technology (perhaps not at our current level though). If we where to think strictly in terms of using technology to build robots that are alive, nano-robots and chemicals (much like in an animal body) could be used to break down food into small components, that could then be used by similar nano-robots to add new components to the large robot. In the same way, nano-robots could be programmed to produce completely new robots (somewhat like gametes in an animal body). In order to create artiﬁcial life, we could of course also combine organic and technological materials. Using ”the best of two worlds” would not only make the process much simpler, but might also result in a sturdier and more easily adapted living thing.
As I mentioned before, if we aim to fulﬁl the dream of creating the perfect AI and ﬁnally getting to know exactly which eﬀects it will have on our society, we need ﬁrst understand exactly what we are trying to mimic. We need to understand ourselves. Perhaps, rather than creating intelligence, we should aim at creating life?