A patent is a way to own intellectual property, in other words it is a proof of ownership of an idea, concept, piece of art, or similar such work. Patents are a method of owning an idea with the goal being the inventor or creator of that piece of intellectual property is able to benefit from it, thereby incentivizing the person to sharing this intellectual property for the betterment of society. Imagine if someone were to invent a better method of plowing roads, but because they fear their inability to profit from this invention, they do not sell in to anyone and instead the old method is still used, this could lead to traffic jams and car crashes that could have been avoidable if the inventor were incentivized to share their intellectual property. That is the point of patents. A patent says that the person who invented the new way to clear roads of snow, if they get a patent on the invention, will then be able to be the sole owner of this invention for a number of years, this will also stop people from trying to steal others ideas for their own profit. For this reason I feel the theory of patents are a good idea. They incentivize innovation, punish idea theft, reward sharing intellectual property, and contribute to the public good generally. I feel like patents really do help society. If there were no patents, companies would simply steal inventions from one another and so they would then be less likely to share those inventions in the first place, especially smaller companies. If a smaller company came up with an invention and no patents existed, a bigger company could simply steal the inventions make it cheaper and then drive the smaller company out of business. While this could still happen in other ways, patents provide at least a little protection for inventors and creators. Patents on software makes sense to me. Software can be invented, revolutionized, improved, and marketed just like physical inventions and hardware. So for the same reasons patents are theoretically good for physical ideas, they are also good for software intellectual property. The existence of patent trolls show that the system is working but flawed. This flaw also does not have an easy solution. Patent trolls are taking advantage of necessary parts of the patent system. These patent trolls are focussing on the buying and selling of patents. While at first it may not make sense to be able to buy or sell patents, it is actually a great way for companies to continue to innovate. If a company comes up with a patent to actually enforce the patent they have to be constantly monitoring all similar uses and devices, trying to see if anyone is stealing the patent. That requires a large number of employees and a lot of time. If this hypothetical company is able to sell their patent to a company who specializes in the protection of patents, they are able to make money from the patent and the patent is able to be protected. However, patent trolls are not trying to protect patents of other people and still allow innovation, they are simply attempting to maximize how much money they are able to make off of each patent. I am not sure what the solution to patent trolls is, but I hope it is not the elimination of patents, because I feel patents can be great in supporting innovation.
The first time I ever considered the ethical concerns of self driving cars was as a direct result of the British television show, Top Gear. In this particular episode one of the presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, brings up an issue. “What should a self driving car do if it physically can’t stop, run into the back of the car in front of it, killing the passengers in the car, or swerve into a crowd of people on the sidewalk.” Clarkson’s question is in essence asking about one of the main ethical concerns of the implementation of self driving cars, the Trolley Problem. The problem goes, there is a trolley out of control rushing down the path and if it is allowed to continue as is, a group of people will be killed; however, if you switch the tracks the trolley will instead only hit a single person who is on the other track. The question is one that has been considered heavily and, despite questions about the applicability to self driving cars by people such as Ian Bogost, will continue to be discussed. This question and others like it will continue to be asked as self driving cars are further developed and tested, especially on public roads. The reasons behind developing self driving automobile technology is understandable even with these concerns. Thousands of people die as a result of automobile accidents every year and of these accidents, ninety percent are as a result of human mistakes. Therefore, theoretically if human error was eliminated the number of automobile related deaths would drop drastically. This would have a particularly large impact on the shipping industry. There are thousands of truck drivers currently on the road, transportation is one of the biggest industries in the United States, however it is also extremely dangerous. Many of these drivers are promised bonuses if they get their loads to their destinations faster so they tend to speed, not sleep as much as they should, and drive in dangerous conditions. For example there was a big snow storm on the east coast last week Pennsylvania and Ohio were also hit pretty badly. This weekend while driving to New York, I counted at least seven tractor trailers crashed on the side of the road, most of them overturned and all of them at least jackhammered. If these trucks were self driving cars instead of real drivers they would have pulled over immediately when the snow started and even if they had crashed no one would have been hurt. While the drivers would be safer that ignores the fact they would lose their jobs as a result of the self driving trucks. Self driving cars could very seriously and very quickly decimate the transportation industry. That would cause a lot of people who had steady employment for years to now be without employment, at first these self driving cars and trucks may still require safety drivers, so instead of driving they are acting as safety drivers, but it won’t be long until they will be out of a job altogether. Hopefully, jobs are made as a result of the creation of self driving cars, but at the present moment, I don’t see a solution only problems. These problems are also moral, aside from the ethics of a car’s system is the testing of these cars. Many people report that to get truly effective self driving cars they need to be tested on real world road with other drivers around and real world conditions. There needs to be more oversight though. A the present time, the government doesn’t regulate self driving cars enough and people have died. However not all the blame lies with the government. Specifically in the case of the pedestrian being struck and killed in Arizona, a large part of the blame rests with Uber who turned off their emergency braking system, which at the very least sounds like something that should never be turned off, in order to create a more smooth ride.
In the end self driving cars will be implemented in the future, I just think its a matter of how much. Personally I feel the ideal conditions are if self driving automobiles are used for longer distance driving such as with trucking, this would limit the fatigue of long distance driving, while also limiting the pedestrian interaction with autonomous cars. In more residential cities, I feel the systems should act more as advisory and last resort systems rather than total control. Think as though it were more of just improved versions of the guidance systems we have today with lane assist and other features. But more I feel public transportation would be ideal especially in the most urban areas.
Artificial Intelligence is advanced Computer Processes that are often used to mimic or surpass normal human capabilities. To me artificial intelligence is anything that is supposed to stand in for a normal human. This means machines, such as Watson, which is meant to largely do the job of Doctor, such as researching medical data, cross searching information, or examining x-rays, would be considered Artificial Intelligence. While Artificial Intelligence may be able to surpass normal human capabilities in some situations, such as telling the difference between a bee and a three in large sets of data, they often are not very diverse in their abilities. At the current time, it is different form normal human intelligence because it lacks the breadth of understanding. In the example above, an Artificial Intelligence may be able to go through thousands of images much faster than a human determining with a similar failure percentage which is a bee and which is a three, it will not be able to understand what a four is. This is the advantage humans have at the present moment, the ability to have a more diverse understanding base. The projects Deep Blue, Watson, etc. all show that artificial intelligence is viable, but not in the way most would think of Artificial Intelligence. In the Economist article, current Artificial Intelligence is described as Cognitive Enhancements and I feel this is the best way to understand them. While Artificial Intelligence is able to improve throught by a certain amount, it is more a tool than a substitute. They will be able to help greatly, Watson will help doctors keep up to date on medical research and limit the chances of misdiagnosis, however, it will not be able to do this on its own at the current time. So, while not viable as independent intelligences, they are able to enhance current abilities and understanding and so are not gimmicks.
While the Turing test is a good first step of testing for Artificial Intelligence, as the Chinese Room points out, it is easily subverted. I think that while, it shows advancement in technology, it does not show true Artificial Intelligence, or strong AI as described in the Chinese Room. The idea that Intentionality is necessary makes sense from a logical point of view, however as more and more the amount of Artificial Intelligence programs written are created by Deep Learning programs, we will get closer and closer to true Artificial Intelligence. A lot of why the intentionality argument works, is that when data is taken in by the mind, the mind processes it in such a way that only it understands, this is the intentionality, it understand data as it intends to, not as a programmer told it to. For this reason, while I feel the Turing test is insufficient, I do believe that true Artificial Intelligence will be possible eventually.
As explained before I view current Artificial Intelligence as Cognitive Enhancement, similar to Computers even from the last century. For this reason I am not supremely concerned with the threat of Artificial Intelligence. I feel like if technology continues as it is, Artificial Intelligence will benefit us as a society much more than it will hurt us as a society.
I think it is very possible that a computing system could be considered a mind, the biological mind itself is, in my opinion, biological computers. Similar to how computers have circuits, brains have neurons, while the Brain is much more complex than modern computers, I feel at some point a computing system could have mindedness. Ethically I think this means that if a computer has mindedness it must be subject to the same restrictions as other conscious beings, such as it should not be allowed to hurt people. I feel like so long as mechanical computers are treated like biological computers there shouldn’t be any problems.
Trolls are those who attempt to sow chaos throughout the internet. They are not in the majority of internet users but they are extremely vocal. Trolls are similar to hecklers. In both cases an individual or small group of people are able to hide within a larger group providing them with a sense of anonymity. These people then will put out often hurtful messages in an attempt to cause other problems. The anonymity is the big issues in both cases, but it is often heightened on the internet. On sites such as reddit, twitter and similar sites, users are provided a level of anonymity. The user is able to choose their own name and then simply change accounts at will with any connection between the two very small. This anonymity allows people to have a seperation from those they are causing chaos for. It is much easier to be hurtful when there is something in between the person doing the hurting and those being hurt. This relates to cyber bullying. Where compared to traditional bullying, cyber bullying can be totally anonymous and always has physical distance between the bully and the victim. The screen makes the messages being sent or the pictures being shared separate from the person being attacked. There is also no immediate visible effect with cyber bullying. While many people may be put off from bullying face to face, because then they have to witness the victims distress, when a screen is between the two parties, that same emotional connection is lacking. The position of companies in these situations is often difficult to understand. While they should try and create as open and safe a space online as possible, it is difficult to monitor all aspects at once, and even then there are privacy concerns. I think companies should attempt to stop all cyber bullying that could cause people, however that is simply not possible, because to do so is to attempt to limit the freedom that the internet represents and even if it was totally safe, people would likely not use it because it would lack this freedom of expression. The best companies can do is to flag any extremely bombastic statements and if a user has a history of this hand out bans on a case by case basis.
Gamergate is an example of the minority being extremely loud. In this case the small group should probably have been more closely monitored so that they could not gather to propagate the hate as much. Gamergate also is an example of the problems with anonymity. Gamergate is a closed bottle ecosystem like mentioned in the article by Kyle Wagner. With the combination of anonymity and the ability to connect to people with similarly extreme views from far away while not having to talk to others, the problem just got worse. Cyberbullying is a problem, but one that doesn’t have an easy solution. The internet is a great place but if we are to properly protect children from harassment we would have to severely restrict their access to the internet and strictly monitor it, while this is probably a good idea for children of a certain age, the question is when should this restriction be released. Trolls are a systemic problem that will never be able to be completely eliminated like hecklers, the best method of dealing with trolls is to simply ignore them, or report them if the message is to extreme. I think real name services make sense, but are will be very hard to implement, while it would create more of responsibility among people, it would not be able to be enforced, most people would want to be able to customize their profile to better represent themselves, and by remaining anonymous and choosing a name we are more able to do this. I personally do not use any real name web sites. I don’t use them simply because I don’t feel the need to. Online discussion is great because it allows people to create more real discussion amongst themselves and others from around the world.