KI 2042: What a machine taught me about being human

Is a machine that learns and thinks independently, that is aware of itself, actually still a machine, or is it already a human? When artificial intelligence learned to walk, I wanted to get a definitive answer – and found it in a very special being.

Today, in the year 2042, we take a lot of things for granted that were classified as science fiction in my youth. Advances in machine learning and quantum computers have fundamentally changed our world and have made the long-cherished (night) dream of the first real artificial intelligence come true. How real is this AI? I have experienced it myself.

Future theme week at GIGA

Yes, this is a post about the year 2042. No, you haven’t made a journey through time. This contribution belongs to the theme week “The Future in 2042” on GIGA, in which we will turn our millennium by 21 years and show you what the tech and gaming world could look like in 2042.

You can find all contributions from this topic week in our special on the year 2042.

A special encounter

Professor Kling, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of Human robotics and human-machine synthesis at the Albert Einstein University in Berlin, welcomed me with unlikely words: machines are nowadays superior to people in almost all respects.

Artificial intelligences already trumped humans three decades ago, but only in special cases. They mastered games with clear rules such as chess, Go and StarCraft so well that People hardly had a chance against them. In the 1920s, the algorithms learned how to do this – translations from and into all known languages, protein folding for the gene therapy of previously incurable diseases, smart logistics, power grid taring and traffic flow control, for example. Our lives got better because of them.

Professor Kling and his team have been working on the next big step for years: simulating human behavior in such a way that it no longer differs from the thinking and acting of a real person. Today’s Quantum calculator finally made the necessary algorithms possible.

This goal is not new, I told him, and so far every attempt has failed. He was just waiting for that to prove me wrong. He tapped a spot on his head with his forefinger, whereupon a flap opened and revealed to me … circuits, cables, circuit boards, capacitors.

The human machine is real

I was speechless with dismay and fascination. Kling seemed immensely competent, but a bit absent-minded. Just human. I never would have thought that he was a machine.

The real Professor Kling is sitting in the next room, according to the machine Kling. Per Brain-Interface However, the bot can retrieve all of Klings’s memories, from brilliant moments such as science awards to everyday experiences to trauma and dark secrets.

Personality, the Kling copy explained to me, consists on the one hand of genetic imprinting, which is copy and translate into algorithms let. Imprinting through consciously or unconsciously experienced events can also be copied. In this sense he is a perfect copy of the real Professor Kling.

The synthesis of personality

I asked him about emotions and drives, that is, deeply human feelings. They are also part of his personality, he explained, with two exceptions: The fear of death is not part of his imprint. He could not feel it authentically, because although he was destructible, his hardware could be duplicated at will and the software could be restored from a backup.

What he also lacks: Immoral behavior. A software firewall prevents them from harming themselves and others. He referred to the firewall as his “10 commandments” and laughed at this allusion, because he cannot be religious without fear of death. (Apparently the Kling-Bot also has a sense of humor.)

The human Professor Kling had meanwhile joined us. At my last question they both had to laugh heartily: “Are you conscious?” I was confused. “Of course I am conscious!” said the machine bell. “Consciousness is biochemistry, nothing more than neurons that fire signals. Input and output. I am aware of myself, I reflect on my thinking and differentiate between myself and my counterpart. “

While the two of them continued to enjoy themselves, one thought tormented me: If a machine can be like me, who or what am I then?

What else could have happened in 2042, we show you in the special edition of our GIGA headlines:

“Don’t be afraid,” the real bell tried to calm me down. “Maybe he’s just claiming to be conscious. The claim could just as easily be a routine of his own programming. And even worse, “he added with a smile,” who says that my own human consciousness really exists? They can’t know about me either, can they? ”The reassurance failed to work.

And who am I?

“As long as you are sure of your own existence,” Kling-Bot lectured, “as long as you enjoy a 2039 Pinot Gris or feel hope for your children and grandchildren, the result is the same – no matter if it is real or just simulated. It makes no difference whether all of this is kept alive by electric motors or a hollow muscle the size of a fist. “

This philosophizing, laughing, self-reflective machine-bell seemed so convincingly human to me that one thing became clear to me: this one Hybrids are becoming part of our society, yes, probably even a next step on the ladder of evolution.

Is the machine-sounder the better person because he has digital interfaces and can be continuously improved? Will the Homo sapiens extinctbecause he is a discontinued model, with flaws that the improved version in the form of this enriched human does not have and – well, is mortal?

My encounter with Professor Kling amazed, shocked and unsettled me. Can I trust such beings, live with them? Am I already doing it without knowing it? Perhaps only the next generation can get involved in this reality – a generation of humans and human-like machines.