Volume 3, Issue 1
1st Quarter, 2008

United States v. AI

Susan Fonseca-Klein, J.D.

Certain theories, events and landmark decisions have sparked intense controversy over time such as the origin of man, desegregation and Roe v. Wade respectively. Equally is the nature of Artificial Intelligence about which we know little, yet speculate much.

Historically, man’s existence has been debated by creationists and evolutionists alike. However, in the coming decades, the first “intelligent machine” may come to assert life, liberty and property interests.

A shift in collective thinking and social regulation may have to be applied once AI walks amongst us. Just as the criteria of life and death have changed over time, so may the standards for defining intelligence and sentience undergo change. Indeed, future possibilities may even require re-examination of what it means to be “human.” Similarly, a broad interpretation and reading of the words “person” and “citizen” within federal law will have to be adopted in order to safeguard the underlying interests the U.S. Constitution [1] embodies, which include equality, justice and freedom.

Political, scientific and legal debate surrounding AI has begun. Advances and variances in both concept and scope concerning AI, as well as future ramifications for mankind, are being questioned in workshops and conferences throughout the nation and internationally.

Within this generation society will experience the genesis of Artificial General Intelligence and for good or ill, society can no longer avoid the intelligence-revolution AI will create.

"Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an 'intelligence explosion,' and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make." I. J. Good (1965)

I. Introduction

Philosophers, science fiction writers, and engineers have dreamed about the possibilities of intelligent machines for decades but only since the technological “revolution” have serious inroads to actual development been possible.

The advantages that could be derived for man’s benefit from such technology are endless (e.g. resolution of catastrophes, outer-inner space exploration, cures for disease, etc.). The popular Star Trek “Data,” a human-like intelligent robot, has fascinated sci fi followers for years. Yet, the negative implications of “science gone wrong” and “unfriendly” creations superior to man are unimaginable while the possibility of man’s obsolescence is unthinkable.

The “what ifs” and “wherefores” of likely possibilities/probabilities are being debated today in the belief that an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be a reality within the next few decades. Already existing archetypes demonstrate advances being made toward consciousness in machines. Stan Franklin’s IDA (Intelligent Distribution Agent) is capable of performing several functions of consciousness and is programmed to interact with US Navy databases and personnel.[2] Ron Sun’s CLARION is capable of simulating well-known learning tasks that range from simple reactive skills to complex cognitive skills.[3]Such simulations and interpretations provide better understanding of consciousness and cognition in humans.

Despite advances in the scientific field, the legal arena is slow to take the plunge. Thus, while the law currently protects human beings and legally created entities (e.g. corporations), our jurisprudence has not yet been exposed to the issue of legal protection for a non carbon-based thinking machine or Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).[4] As such, attorneys have only begun to take initial steps to understand and absorb the impact AI will have on society. This test, however, is coming.

II. History of AI

The field of artificial intelligence originated at Dartmouth College in 1956 where the term was coined at that eventful Summer Research Conference by John McCarthy, one of the computer scientists attending along with Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, and Herbert Simon. In 1963 they founded the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) and the MIT Lab for Computer Science (Project MAC, currently MIT C-SAIL).

Society knew little about AI during those early years of brain-storming sessions. While the public has since “played catch-up” to rudimentary AI definitions, concepts and usage that range from high tech gadgets and programs (e.g. GPS, Google Earth) to smart robots, the technological community has already advanced “light years” beyond such basics to more complex and controversial discussions that debate future unknowns.

Today, not only are the scientific, philosophical and social ramifications of AGI important, but the legal implications are as well, and it is those to which this article addresses its primary attention.

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1. Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish, Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.

2. Stan Franklin is W. Harry Feinstone Interdisciplinary Research Professor at the University of Memphis, TN and co-director of the Institute of Intelligent Systems. He is the author of Artificial Minds (MIT Press, 1995) and mental father of IDA, a computational implementation of Global Workspace Theory. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stan_Franklin and http://ccrg.cs.memphis.edu/projects.html

3. The Connectionist Learning with Adaptive Rule Induction ON-line (CLARION) is led by Professor Ron Sun,
Cognitive Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. See http://www.cogsci.rpi.edu/~rsun/clarion.html

4. AI v. AGI (distinguishing “strong” from “weak” AI) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_ai see also http://www.agiri.org/wiki/What_is_AGI

5. Original article was presented at the VISION-21 Symposium sponsored by NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, March 30-31, 1993. See http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge/misc/singularity.html

6. http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-AI...

7. Dr. Stock is the Director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at UCLA's School of Medicine. (Article originally published April 2002. Excerpt from Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future. Published on KurzweilAI.net June 5, 2002).

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