Robots That 'Feel' Real Emotions
Professor Alexi Samsonovich from the Moscow-based National Research Nuclear University (MEPhl) Cybernetics Department has claimed “We are on the verge of a major breakthrough” in AI.
With this increased interest and investment comes significant progress, including an advance that Samsonovich thinks will allow machines to feel. “Primarily this entails demonstrating that a machine [is] capable of feeling human emotions and exhibiting human-level socially emotional intelligence in a variety of settings,” he said.
Samsonovich is quick to insist that this doesn’t necessarily involve consciousness. In fact, he thinks consciousness is impossible to ever validate in another subject other than oneself, and thus it’s too vague to be a reliable marker.
“What I am talking about here is limited to behavior, internal organization of the system and its internal dynamics, like neurophysiology or running software,” he said. “Today we can build a machine that behaves as if it had human-like feelings. When you will see this kind of behavior exhibited consistently over time in many circumstances and without occasional ‘presence breaks’ … you will believe that this entity is alive and is in a social contact with you, and you will interact with it accordingly.”
SF fans have lots of feelings about this idea. For example, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Commander Data made use of an emotion chip to actually feel emotions himself, which helped him understand his human coworkers and friends.
(Geordi and Data regard the emotion chp)
Arthur C. Clarke's HAL 9000 was also quite adept at determining emotions (mostly through voice harmonics).
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