I'm getting slightly off point there, but what I'm getting at is something that's been covered diversely in the media around us in the past few years. It's been featured in Hollywood very recently (in the film "I Robot"). I have a question to ask you - where is the point where what I am playing on a console is no longer just disseminating polygonal shapes and actually maliciously butchering a being?
Any fans of Science Fiction will instantly see what I mean - just look at Star Wars, Star Trek, or any countless other number of Sci-Fi TV shows out there. What do they all have in common? Bingo - they all have a concept of an ungiven number of different types of species in the universe.
Take a look at The Matrix Revolutions - Neo meets Ramakanda and Kamala, and despite the fact that they're programmes, they still want to save their daughter, Sati, from the terror that is about to bestow itself upon the inhabitants of The Matrix. This begs a modicum of new questions, namely - can programmes and code have feeling? In the Train Station in that scene, the programmes insist that they can live, and as a result, love.
I'm a modest fan of Science Fiction - I've seen a load of films that pretain to themes revolving around robots or non-human lifeforms (AI, I, Robot, Terminator Trilogy etc). Now, this isn't exactly the most healthy thinking on the planet, but still, it does make me question my methods to a degree. I mean, I'm justified in killing the mass of head-crabs that want to mess me up, but that's only because a plot-line has been strewn in front of me and I have to get to the end. My question is this - should we be doing this?
Now, before I continue, I'd like to say that I'm not dellusioned to the extent of thinking that a games company could create life inside a game, because that's perhpas the most ridiculous thing anyone could possible fathom. Not to mention the mass of laws prohibiting such activities, well, it'd be just so damn complicated. In this topic, you're the audience, and I'm the Devil's Advocate.
Of course, I've exaggerated the true situation ten fold, as any non-player characters are just lines of code that are pre-programmed to perform said action to move the plot forward, to level your character or whatnot. But what I'm saying is this - in 10, 20, 50 or 100 years time, is it going to be the same? There's a line where no longer will NPCs be just lines of code on a screen, but they will be something greater, something a damn sight more realistic.
There is a line. I don't know where this line is drawn, but it's there, and eventually, there will be a time when I stand over a young mother with my Armalay semi-automatic carbine rifle and think "what did she do to me?" On the other end of the spectrum, at what point will the enemy show remorse or compassion at my never-ending fear and the fact that I have a family to bring the money home to? Is there a line where we can call something created in a developmental studio a living thing?
Again, I've raised a multitude of more questions, such as - how long is VR gaming away? Would society ever recognise these lines of code as living entities? What laws would be put in place ("human" rights for lines of code!?)? Putting the judicial system aside, should humans be able to have the power to create a living entity, from a moral standpoint?
Anyone who has played Zone of the Enders will understand my next point with ease. The main character, Leo, seems to have a connection to the computer mainframe, ADA. There's various points in the game where the mechanoid that Leo is flying in is under attack, and the mainframe tells Leo to abort the mission and save himself, but Leo refuses to "leave her behind". The mainframe cannot understand why he would have such feelings for something that is not human, but in Leo's eyes, the eyes of a young boy, I might add, Leo hears a human-voice and therefore treats this machine as a human.
By the time the game is over, it makes you question what it really is to be human. Of course, you must have blood in your body, and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen, yadda yadda yadda, but if even a machine can fathom emotions, then it makes one reconsider the definition of human (from anything other than a biological standpoint).
Look at the various species of animals - it's been proven that they can show certain emotions and feel certain things. Hans Seyle injected rats with various drugs and actually discovered that the rats developed stomach ulcers, but not due to the fear of the drug, but due to the fear of the syringe needle. Animals can work in teams to attack a predator among other things, yet society would still happily off them to better the human race.
I eat meat, I drink milk and I don't care what material my clothes are made from. This is a few shared by a large percentage of humans the world over, and it certainly contributes to the thinking that if animals, living things, are expendable, then nobody is going to give a flying funk about some lines of code that somebody knocked up.
In closing, I think it'll be a long, long time before we envision truely autonomous AI, but that in time, it will certainly come along.
Thanks for reading,
They should give everyone's (new people anyway) address to Snuggly, who knows Shaneo's addy off my heart apparently, then we would all know.
And I've already won one GAD. Do you really think that staff would let me win if I was said person?
> Could you be any more Shaneo?
> Could you be any more Shaneo?
Their loss, I suppose.