Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Jaccavrie And Other AIs

Jaccavrie is Ranger Daven Laure's conscious spaceship computer or cybernetic brain.

"Laure had a brief, irrational vision of Jaccavrie nodding. Her tone was so thoughtful. She would be a big, calm, dark-haired woman, handsome in the middle age though getting somewhat plump..."
Poul Anderson, "Starfog" IN Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 709-794 AT p. 716.

So we can imagine a dream or a fiction within the fiction in which Laure does meet this big, calm, middle-aged woman. In Robert Heinlein's Time Enough For Love, which I intensely dislike, Lazarus Long converses with a conscious computer and imagines it as a woman. Later, the computer's personality, with enough memories of its former state to maintain psychological continuity, is reproduced in an artificially generated human body. In Poul Anderson's Harvest of Stars Tetralogy, human personalities are preserved in artificial neural systems and some are later transferred to newly grown human bodies. Virtual realities contain conscious simulations of historical persons. In Anderson's Genesis, human personalities are uploaded into artificial intelligences (AIs) and can be re-embodied inside "emulated" (consciously simulated) environments. Human beings enter computer-generated virtual realities in Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years. In his The Avatar, a human brain becomes the conscious element in a human-computer interaction.

Is that enough AI for us?

6 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I can see human cloning as being very likely and possible, and possibly even being done right now, somewhere, in secret. But I'm far more skeptical of whether artificial AIs even being possible. But I enjoyed the HARVEST OF STARS books precisely because went beyond the edges of what we knew to give us speculations about even unlikely possibilities.

One thing that bothers me as a Catholic, where it comes to downloading a human personality into a new body (probably created by cloning) is to wonder if that downlaoding DISPLACES the soul created for that body. The Catholic belief is that God creates a new soul at the moment of conception for that new body. Downloading an "old" personality looks like driving out the soul created for that body. So this might become a difficult ethical quandary for Christians.

All this is contingent, of course, on whether it is even possible to download and upload human personalities!

Btw, Poul Anderson used this idea earlier, in "The Voortrekkers."

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Of course I see no reason to postulate a soul specially created to accompany each new human body but, if this does happen and if each soul is directly created by God, then how can the soul be created bearing "original sin."
Paul.

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
The old personality is physically downloaded into the brain where it affects the memories and motivations so the soul (if there is such) associated with the body will interact with the downloaded memories and motivations - but there seems to be no need to bring a soul distinct from the body into this narrative.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Original Sin, meaning being born prone to sin, error, folly, death, etc., becomes "attached" to the new soul at conception because it was infused into the new body. But this just off the top of my head. A Catholic theologian would probably explain much more carefully and precisely.

Not necessary to bring in speculations about the soul into these narratives by Poul Anderson? True, but they are exampples of how some readers might think while pondering his novels/stories.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Of course, the possibility of -transferring- a personality (as happens in several of Poul's stories) raises the possibility of -copying- it. If you don't destroy the old body in the process of creating a new one, then there are two individuals with the same continuity of consciousness and memories. Is one more real than the other?

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

And we do see Anson Guthrie, a major character in the HARVEST OF STARS books, being copied. I would say copies of such downloaded or uploaded personalities become twins. Because, once such copies begin thinking and acting independently of the others, and at different times, they are no longer exactly the same. The old Anson Guthrie in his first physical body is the same, yet no longer quite the same as his downloads. It's going to be darn hard to decide which of them is more "real" than the others!

Sean