2013 / 27 July

Artificial Emotion in AI, Implications and Predictions with Dr. Jordi Vallverdú


Dr. Jordi Vallverdú is a professor and renown researcher at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain). His specialty area is the domain of synthetic emotion. His current research is dedicated to the epistemological, ethical, gender, and educational aspects of Philosophy of Computing and Science.

I’m happy we were able to catch up, and I’ve included my email correspondence with Jordi below:

1) What do you think will be the first implementations of synthetic emotion that will genuinely have a WIDE impact on human life?

WHITH CARE AND SEX ROBOTS, BESIDES OF REAL VIRTUAL FRIENDS CHATBOTS.

2) Do you believe that humans will want to alter their own emotional experiences? Many believe so, please explain your position here, as well as any ethical considerations that you find most pressing (and possibly how we could avoid major risks).

YES. IN FACT, PEOPLE WANT TO FEEL MORE AND/OR DIFFERENTLY, THIS IS THE REASON OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL INTAKE, BESIDES OF NATURAL WAYS OF OBTAINING ‘BRAIN-BODY REWARDS’ LIKE DOPAMINE, OXICOTOCINE, ADRENALINE,….. CONSEQUENTLY, ANY NEW WAY TO ADD SENSATIONS WILL BE WELCOMED BY AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE WORLD POPULATION.

3) If conscious beings experience emotion (positive or negative), then there is more serious ethical implications of imbuing “things” with emotion, is there not? It seems as if creating consciousness and creating emotional experience is the ULTIMATE ethical precipice of our human creation thus far. Do you agree with this? (Or maybe you believe that non-conscious objects and entities might experience emotion as well?)

FOLLOWING YOUR RATIONAL SEQUENCE, IT SHOULD BE CONCLUDED THAT EVERY NEWBORN MEANS AN ETHICAL PRECIPICE, BUT IT IS FAR FROM BE TRUE. ANY SOCIAL LIVING ENTITY MUST DEAL WITH BIOLOGICAL AS WELL AS SOCIAL CONSTRAINTS…THE EMOTIONAL INTERFACE WILL ORIENTATE THE KIND OF NEW ETHICS THAT MACHINES CAN CREATE BY THEMSELVES (IF CONSCIOUS). FOR EXAMPLE: THEY COULD FIND US FUN, LIKE WE THINK ABOUT DOGS. OR TRULY FRIENDS WITH MORE HISTORICAL EXPERTISE

4) You are part of the Steering Committee of the European Association for Philosophy & Computing, E-CAP, What does your membership involve, and can you tell us more about that org? I can find no info online.

I WAS MEMBER OF ECAP STEERING COMMITTEE. ECAP WAS MERGED INTO IACAP INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION, WHICH IS DEAL IS TO  MAKE AN ADVANCE INTO THE PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS OF COMPUTER SCIENCES, FROM A BROAD PERSPECTIVE.

5) Lastly and MOST importantly, there are so many perspectives about how emerging technology will revolutionize human experience and human potential, and it seems impossible that all the well-intending experts could agree. How can we, as researchers, businesspeople, politicians, etc… find a way to work together so that we bring humanity to a future that is aggregately BETTER, not aggregately worse?

TO IMPROVE THE FUTURE HAS BEEN A POSSIBILITY FOR EACH HUMAN GENERATION SINCE THE LAST 3 MILLIONS OF YEARS. FIRST OF ALL, WE MUST SHARE COMMON GOODS AND AGREE ABOUT BASIC VALUES NECESSARY FOR A COMPLETE LIFE. ECONOMY AND ETHICS. BESIDES, SINCE 19TH CENTURY HUMANKIND HAS MECHANISMS TO SOLVE HUNGER AND BASIC MEDICAL PROBLEMS FOR ALL HUMAN POPULATION. NEW BIOTECHNOLOGIES ARE NOT A SOLUTION: OLD NEW CHEMICAL AGRICULTURE OF 19TH CENTURY COULD PROVIDE FOOD FOE ANY HUMAN IN THE WORLD. BUT THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM DOES NOT ALLOW IT, NOT WESTERN WAY OF LIFE. TECHNOLOGY IS NOT THE PROBLEM NOR THE MOST IMPORTANT SOLUTION: IDEAS ARE.

A big thanks to Jordi for taking the time for this interview. To learn more about him and his research, see his University profile here, or visit his bio page on Lifeboat.org.

All the best,

-Daniel Faggella

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