We hardly think about how our predictable actions and responses are. Recently I noticed something which was too wired. I found that I used to use same sentences without even a change of a word or characters for a particular thing in far different instants of time. I noticed when checking the way I save files especially file names. For different experiments when I had to take similar kind of measurements, I often use the same wired file names ! Same goes with a mail, too. So does it mean that, given the same or similar initial conditions, our brains are restricted to give the same response? Then how far we are from a super robot?
I generally keep my distance from philosophy as it tend to play with our rationality. The new HBO web series “Westworld”opened me up for a philosophical quest about the nature of “originality” of our experiences. There was one particular scene which I felt worth mentioning. Its on episode 8 of season 1. Don’t worry I am not giving the spoilers.
The HBO describes the series like this
The one-hour drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.
Humans creates a huge park with many characters played by artificial intelligent human like robots. Tourists come there to satisfy their wildness, lust, curiosity etc. Dr. Robert, played by Antony Hopkins, with his companion Arnold, built the place 30 years ago. Arnold, who was concerned about the emotions of the artificial humans whom they called hosts, died in the westworld (the park) long back. I wont go much into the story.
The interesting characters are of course the hosts. They are programmed to to respond particularly to every situation, and by experiences they are allowed to improvise their characters. Even in such cases the program can display his/her next words and actions. But the world is too chaotic and any evolution in line are really susceptible to the initial conditions. So an infinite parameters infinite loop artificial intelligence and a human mind are not so different. But human mind is also not with infinite options to a given question. So at one point one cannot differentiate between an artificial intelligence which is destined to respond according to an algorithm and human. Here is a dialogue between the creator Dr. Robert and one of his creation. At one instant he realize that he is not a real human and then questions the reality of his emotions.
Mr. X : I do not understand the things that I feel. Are they real ? the things I experienced, my wife, the loss of my son.
Dr. Robert : Every host needs a backstory Mr. X, you know that. The self is a kind of fiction.For hosts and humans alike. Its a story we tell our self and every story need a beginning. Your imagined suffering makes you life like
Mr. X: “Life like” but not alive? Pain only exist in the mind, its always imagined. So what is the difference between my pain and yours? between you and me?
Dr. Robert : This was the very question that consumed Arnold. Filled him with guilt eventually drove him mad. The answer always seemed obvious to me.There is no threshold, that makes us greater than some of our parts , no inflection point which we become fully alive. We can’t define the consciousness because consciousness doesn’t exist. Humans fancy that there is something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops. as tights and closed as the hosts do. Seldom questioning our choices, content for the most part to be told what to do next. No my friend, you are not missing anything at all.
The scene is so intense especially with Antony Hopkins voice. I am loving the show. The show kept me thinking about the wonder of human intellect and creativity. But is it really necessary to be a biological human to have those? I believe that the free will of the human brain comes from the complexity of the very brain and its neuron network. So an electronic (or any other artificial) network which offer’s number of solutions to choose for a given problem and be able to process from the experiences which will be used in choosing the solutions in the next time can essentially replace a human brain. Our feel of the self is due to the brain. So if such network can be achieved one can transfer her/his self to the network and be immortal !