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Jay Richards: That Robot Is Not Self-Aware

Toy Robot looking at itself in mirror

The way the media cover AI, you’d swear they had invented being hopelessly naïve:

intact robotic arm/Columbia University

Chances are, you’ve already seen this headline or one of many like it: “Robot that thinks for itself from scratch brings forward rise the self-aware machines” It’s from a story first published inThe Telegraph (UK), then by Yahoo News and MSN, and then (of course) linked on Drudge. Henry Bodkin, “health and science correspondent” for The Telegraph, tells us, with no hint of caution, that “the rise of “self-aware” robots has come a major step closer following the invention of a machine capable of thinking for itself from scratch, scientists have said.” The first problem with both the headline and the story is confusion. They claim both that the robot under discussion is already self-aware and that it heralds the rise of “self-aware robots” in the future. Take this bundle of confusion and exaggeration as a harbinger for the next twenty years of reporting on robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s likely to get worse from here.Jay Richards, “That Robot Is Not Self-Aware” at Mind Matters More.

Jay Wesley Richards
Jay Wesley Richards

Jay Richards is a research assistant professor at the Busch School of Business and author, with Jonathan Witt, of The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that J.R.R. Tolkien Got and the West Forgot. His most recent book is The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines.

Also by Jay Richards: A Short Argument Against the Materialist Account of the Mind:

See also: A computer engineering prof’s Top Ten AI hypes of 2018 (Robert Marks)

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So I really do wonder why one might think that a self learning program that is programmed to learn how to identify the moving parts of itself and make a model of itself is some how more self aware than a program that can do that without having to learn it. It’s still programmed in either case to perform that task, what makes it more self-aware? All learning programs do is allow the machine to be more adaptable. AaronS1978

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