The Age Of Spiritual Machines Essay Research — страница 3

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at certain goals. However, the computers do not set these goals themselves. We do. Though computers serve us in a variety of ways, we are still ultimately subservient to them: we give them existence (existence being functional operation alone) and we are quite meticulous about programming the means to their goals. The next step in the evolution of technology would be for machines to ponder their actions. To achieve this process, we must look at the hardware and software that we use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, our brains. The integrated chips that we use on our computers calculate thousands, even millions of times faster than we can think, but in comparison to our brains, it is that much simpler. The brain is structured in three dimensions, in a highly connected, rather than

serial, network, and has functions which, if replicated in a computer, would seem like science fiction. But according to Kurzweil, it is not. Kurzweil says that the coming century will see advances in the non-invasive scanning of living brain tissue, giving scientists the ability to map all the functions of the mind and programmers the ability to replicate it. The Neural Net was a start; successfully imitating the fundamentals behind the operation of the brain gives us the hope that a successful imitation of the entire human brain is an attainable goal. A computer running on a hardware replica of the human brain would not only ask “why,” but would also show preference, feel emotions, and have spiritual experiences. All of these characteristically human traits are all

attributed to parts of the brain. The next question is, “once we have attained the level of technological achievement where we have machines that think and act much like we do, how do we coexist?” There will be serious ethical problems rising from this new era; we will assume that these computers are telling the truth when they claim to be lucid, emotional beings. Would it be ethical to pull their plug if we get mad at them? Hack into their fantasies? Remove certain hardware or software features — lobotomize them — if they get too excited? Kurzweil believe that when A.I. is abundant enough, it will merge with humankind — literally. Biological evolution, Kurzweil says, is at an impasse. Any headway to be made by the human subspecies would take eons. DNA, regardless of

the fact that it is a wondrous machine in our current paradigm, cannot trash an entire design and start from scratch. Steve Jobs, the interim CEO of Apple Computer was dissatisfied with the line of Macintosh computers in 1997 when he returned to the company. The next year, he unveiled a completely new — restructured both architecturally and aesthetically — line of Macs that proved to be some of the more successful computer models sold. This is the advantage of the fact that we control the course of technology. If an evolving technology hits a stalemate, then it should be rethought when its usage becomes archaic. To use the analogy of Apple Computer again, our current bodies are the clunky beige PowerPC 604-based Macs that were being outsold by Pentium machines and threatening

Steve Jobs with unemployment. The prospect of integrating our bodies with the technology we created is like a colorful iMac or G3 that outsells and outperforms most Windows-based machines. There are several ways in which we can integrate ourselves with machines, cybernetic implants, full neural download, and cellular nanotechnology. The first is very much in use today, though not a full implementation. A man in Scotland who lost his arm has a fully functional mechanical arm which responds to the movements of muscles in his shoulder; a chip based on evolutionary algorithms can process light and be embedded in the back of the retina to restore sight to the blind. The list of these sorts of achievements is endless. Some of Kurzweil s own innovations even aided in the development of

these devices. By 2029, Kurzweil predicts, neural implants will become an accepted, though likely by that time not widespread, practice. These things all serve to better our perception and functions while retaining our current biological makeup. Full Neural Download is perhaps the most radical integration. It also raises the most moral and ethical questions. Imagine that you want to move your favorite MP3 music file from your old computer to your new one via Zip Disk. In order to do so, you need to copy the file from the hard drive onto the disk, then onto the new hard drive. Each time you are replicating the file; it continues to have the exact same functionality on the Zip disk as it does on the hard disk, but not only is it a copy, but most likely a copy many generations old