How Can We Imbue Artificial Intelligence With Compassion?

How Can We Imbue Artificial Intelligence With Compassion?

Can artificial intelligence be designed to be compassionate?

Given the ever-increasing pace of development in the world of artificial intelligence, many scientists and researchers are calling for more rigorous regulation to avoid potentially disastrous consequences. And the idea of building positive human values, such as compassion into AI design is quickly gaining momentum

Gregg Braden is a former senior computer systems designer, best-selling author, and leader in the fields of science and spirituality.

“The topic of compassion in artificial intelligence, while in many circles people have never heard of it, in the circles of science and technology it’s a hot topic,” Braden said. “In one way or another, this topic is going to touch each of our lives, and it’s going to happen faster than we have been led to believe. Humankind is at a crossroads right now, for the first time in the history of our species, where we have the technology to support the philosophy of the way we think about ourselves and our relationship to the world around us, to software, to robots, to artificial intelligence, (and) to machine intelligence.” 

“The development of AI is moving at an exponential rate, it’s no longer linear, and it’s not regulated,” he said. “We’re talking about AI that is going to be running huge national and international systems of electricity, power, energy, water, food, and weapons systems that are the reality of our lives today. So, if we’re going to allow artificial intelligence to play a vital role in our lives, we want that intelligence to be more than intelligent — we want it to be smart, we want it to be intuitive, and we want it to be compassionate, as it makes the decisions that affect all of our lives.”

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So what exactly is meant by compassionate AI?

“First of all, if we’re going to imbue machine intelligence with compassion, we have to know what compassion is. Compassion is where we not only feel —empathize — with the suffering of another, but then we choose to act in some way to mitigate that suffering,” Braden said. “So, in a nutshell, this is what we’re talking about when we say compassion from the perspective of programming it into machine intelligence. If we are at the foundation of a new evolution, perhaps a new lifeform, that we in fact are designing, it’s important to get it right at the foundation. Is it that we want to imbue this new lifeform with the cherished values of our own experience?

Given that artificial intelligence is designed to accomplish a specific goal, what role does compassionate design play in the ethical achievement of that goal? 

“The important thing is for that intelligence to have mitigating factors as it is approaching that goal, so it doesn’t see humans as a nuisance getting in the way,” Braden said. “In other words, when we go to accomplish something, you know, we want to drive from point A to point B — a machine intelligence could have that same goal — for us, driving from point A to point B, what if a little kid doesn’t understand traffic signs and walks out in front of us? We have the ability to mitigate our actions based on that scenario. Unless the artificial intelligence is imbued with similar abilities, we can have disastrous effects.”

Braden says he believes the design of compassionate A.I. needs to be modeled on human behavior.

“When we have compassion, we are dynamically interacting with our environment; we’re picking up subtle cues,” Braden said. “When we are with another who is suffering, we will hear inflections in their voice, we will hear frequency changes in their voice. We will sense changes in their heart and their heart-rate variability through electromagnetic fields. We will sense the release of photons in the body. Now, science knows this — they’re only beginning to embrace what it means.” 

“If we’re going to imbue machine intelligence with true compassion, then these capabilities that we have —the ability to pick up these subtle cues within the context of the moment and put them together to elicit a genuine state of compassion and a compassionate response — are what we’re after,” he said.

While this compassionate AI design is still in its infancy, Braden has high hopes for its future.

“So, to me, this is a very exciting new frontier because, in our desire to further the frontier of machine intelligence, synthetic intelligence, or what is often called artificial intelligence, we must understand ourselves on a level – perhaps the deepest level we ever have — and maybe for the first time, we discover for ourselves what it means to be truly human,” Braden said. 

Artificial Intelligence Finds Missing Ghost Ancestor of Humans

Artificial Intelligence Finds Missing Ghost Ancestor of Humans

Our ancestry as a species is intricate and convoluted. We know that Denisovans, Neanderthals, and the other iterations of our hominin ancestors interbred and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. But while anthropologists have done their best to map out this complicated lineage, we’ve now reached a point in our evolution that machines can map our genealogy better than we can. Such was the case when a machine learning algorithm applied to our DNA roadmap found a new ancestor we didn’t even know existed.

According to a study published in Nature Communications, scientists fed DNA data from fossilized bones and modern humans into an A.I. algorithm that computed thousands of timelines to map out the possible evolutionary pathways based on what we know – or what we think we know – about our ancestors migrations, diasporas, and interbreeding to tell us if we were missing anything.

It turns out we were…

The new study found that a missing, archaic “ghost” ancestor played a significant role in the development of the human species, helping to propel us from primitive hominins to the highly intelligent beings we are today.

This ancestor was likely a hybrid of Neanderthals and the Denisovans – the hominin ancestor discovered in 2010, that five percent of modern humans can still directly trace their genealogy through.

And though the study’s authors are referring to this hominin hybrid as a “ghost” population, they also believe there might be fossil evidence of it found in the bones of a 90,000-year-old specimen of a teenage girl discovered in Siberia’s Denisova cave – the location where the original Denisovan fossils were found.

The discovery of the Denisovans has presented itself as one of the most profound and baffling finds for archeologists within the past decade as their fossil remains showed they existed for millennia alongside our other ancestors. Not to mention they appear to have been massive in comparison to other hominin species.

And by massive, they mean that a Denisovan wisdom tooth found in the cave was originally mistaken for that of a bear’s. And though wisdom teeth can vary in size, the anthropologist studying the specimen, Bence Viola, told National Geographic, “large teeth with massive roots would probably require massive jaws.”

Who were these gigantic Denisovans whom we know so little about, and even more baffling, what did their hybrid progeny with Neanderthal’s look like? These paradigm-shifting discoveries only add to the fact that we still have so much more to learn about our species’ history.

 

For more on the strange discovery of the gigantic Denisovans check out this episode of Ancient Civilizations :

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