Numb-bers

Just a thought on robots and Artificial Intelligence. This is the one simple thing people get mixed up about when they talk about when robots will become the same as humans or the idea that humans will upload their brains into a computer and live forever.

 The answer is painful. Yes, pain itself.  Pain, real, felt pain is an essential ingredient to being “alive” in a human sense. It has almost nothing to do with computational power. If there were some threshold level of computational power, let’s face it, a lot of adults wouldn’t qualify.

 Okay, let’s not be so gloomy about it. Joy, too. And don’t try confusing the subject by asking what if a machine can perfectly mimic pain and joy so it’s impossible to tell. This creates an interesting puzzle, but it does not create a person. Mimicked feelings are not in any way feelings. Evolution created a very peculiar system in our pain/pleasure neurology, but for better and worse it worked, and is what defines the character of our actual experience. So go ahead and put your memories into a computer, you won’t actually be glad you did.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.

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