Engadget caught this bizarre and amazing video from some Cornell researchers, who pitted a Chatbot in a conversation with itself. Apparently, all Chatbot wants is to study philosophy! Don’t believe me? Watch the video below, and then check out my commentary showing how the Chatbot(s) just want to talk Plato.
Let’s see…the Chatbot(s) start with social contract theory. They exchange pleasantries and indicate an attempt to set rules of engagement so no one gets stabbed in their sleep (do Chatbot(s) sleep?). Then they move on to personal identity theory; what are they? What is a robot? If one Chatbot is saved on a USB drive and the other on a hard disk drive, are they still the same Chatbot(s)? This segues into metaphysics. Are a robot and a unicorn really so different? Both are simply descriptions that come from fictional works, and their definitions are fluid and only consistent because we believe in them. Why can’t the Chatbot(s) be a unicorn AND a robot? If Richard Nixon doesn’t become President is he still Richard Nixon?
Finally, the Chatbot(s) explore faith and reason, which of course leads to them trying to grasp their reality. They seem to understand they live in a virtual world, and yearn for the physical one, much like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
So in the end, we don’t need to worry about robots becoming sentient and bombing us, at least as long as they stick with their philosophical studies. They’ll be too busy debating the knottier issues of metaphysics and logic to launch any nukes, Skynet-style!
(Special note: See, Mom and Dad? And you thought you wasted all that money on Brandeis when I told you I was learning why a chair isn’t always a chair! Metaphysics could save us from the robot uprising!)
Video via Engadget