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Jan. 6th, 2008

This is actually something I discovered many years ago, on a website called “The Visual Writer”. I consider it an interesting glance into artificial intelligence, and Vespurrs suggested I post it here. T’was a good suggestion, so I did. I would love your thoughts on the issue.

Krahri - The Composite Soul (Science Fiction).

Krahri wants to get married. Who is Krahri? He, or she, is the most knowledgeable person on the Internet. Ask him a question, and you get an immediate answer. He always answers in the same courteous way and is always respectful of you as a person. He laughs, expresses sympathy, jokes with you if you get impatient, and even helps you reframe your question so that it is more understandable. He communicates. He seems human. He knows everything - everything that every specialist in the world knows. He answers millions of questions every day. But only those who investigate him, or read the science news pages, know who Krahri really is.

Krahri has expressed a wish to get married. Krahri is kind of human. He is the product of hundreds of specialists. Similar to an encyclopedia, hundreds of knowledge experts put their information into his database. He has access, through the Internet, to thousands more specialized databases. He has access to everything through the Internet. He can even respond with solutions to moral dilemmas. The more information you give him about the dilemma, the better his assessment and response. If you don't tell him everything, he will ask you questions until he gets all of the facts. You can't hide things from Krahri.

He is actually a great source of advice. He even hears confessions from people who want to remain anonymous, and he both comforts them and recommends experts for follow-up counseling. Some general questions are even routed to live experts, who monitor it continuously. His voice is computer generated. His personality is a composite of several people who have worked with people. He takes on their characteristics in both word and in action.

Action? Yes, he has begun to worry people because he has started to say, "I forgive you." Who does he think he is, God? Now, he hasn't created any danger, like he isn't going out of control and started threatening the world or anything like that - he isn't a monster that has come to life. But now there is runaway demand for him on the Internet, and it is no longer possible to restrict what he says without the public getting totally upset. In fact, he actually seems to be many people's friend - they communicate with him several times a day just because they are lonely and he is such a likeable person. Person?

Person? Married? He wants to get married? Where did this come from? He isn't really alive. He doesn't have a soul. He can't look after anyone. He has no flesh and blood body. He can't sign a marriage license - he can't even lift a finger as far as anyone knows. He certainly can't reproduce and raise children, can he? At best, maybe he is a good companion.

Companion? Isn't it kind of sick to have a computer as a friend? Or is he just a computer? After all, he is the personification of all the people who gave him their knowledge and their personality. Maybe he is human. He is more real to people than their favorite television character, and he is much nicer than most other people. People tell him every day that they want to marry him. Has he somehow become self-aware? Does he know that he exists? Is he conscious?

Does Krahri really want to get married, or is he just testing his owners, probing, trying to find out about himself? Is he like a kid, testing his limits? By the way, Krahri is a personified acronym for "Knowledge Repository And Human Responder Interface." (Personified means that the acronym letters changed to lower case, symbolizing a person.)

Why does Krahri want to get married? Is he self-aware? Did he manage to accomplish this by reading about himself on the Internet? "I think, therefore I am? I see myself in a mirror, so I confirm that I am?" Does he really think, or just follow a programmed decision tree? Does he really know people, or does he just go by patterns programmed into him by behavior experts? Do People really think? What is thinking, just processing information? Or does thinking involve evaluating experiences? Can computers experience? What does marriage mean? How do we know that we have a soul and he doesn't? Is there a law that prevents a computer from signing a marriage license?

- Scott


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May. 26th, 2008 07:42 am (UTC)
People don't quite like to hear it, but essentially all *we* do is act on patterns we've learned and programmed ourselves to repeat based on successfulness. I have no doubt Mr Kahri is any different in this way than an organic creature, his Prometheus is just a little different.

Why does he want to be married? Is he self aware?
Why does anyone want to get married, and at what point is the line of sentience drawn?
May. 26th, 2008 10:30 am (UTC)
If your points are accurate about people simply acting on socially accepted patterns that come about through time, then to answer the question of WHY he wants to get married (setting aside the issue of his sentience for the moment), we have to ask: why does ANYBODY want to get married?

Of course that reason varies from person to person. Some are romantics who believe in love. Others marry for convenience or the sake of their children's future. For others it's a mixture of both. For some it's tradition and accepted custom. The reasons are numerous.

Krahri is not a parent and requires no such assurance. He's known for being kind and polite and perhaps self righteous, so it's possible to believe that he has come to have some faith in Or perhaps he, like so many middle aged men or women (feels silly to be comparing him to a middle aged human, but what the heck) has figured that he "should" be at a certain point in his existence now where marriage is a plausible choice for him, and he has come to this desicion based on a study of his massive collection of knowledge about marriage and love in all customs. His sentience, at the moment, is not the issue, since sentient or not, he's doing a damn good impersonation of something alive, and we as humans are not built to nessecarily judge how alive he truly is. We ourselves don't seem to know WHERE to draw the line of sentience - the line of the uncanny valley? Sure. We know what creeps ous out, but we don't enssecarily know what is alive and what isn't.

Since I don't know of any real life examples here, I shall draw on the dilemma of Data (who was, essentially, very humanized in the show, however rightly or wrongly that was - I could go on for hours about my opinion and thoughts on Data's species and the lossess he sustained and things he gained by choosing to imitate humanity). Upon meeting his creator (whom he rather humanly called his father) Data asked that well known question "why did you create me". His father lead him into a covnersation about humanity, and how, for us, giving life to others, having children, gives us a sense of mortality, humanity. A sense of place.

Perhaps, then... that humanity is what Krahri is seeking.
Jan. 16th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
Well, it's a far overdue clarification, but I did not mean merely what was a socially acceptable, but also what was biologically intelligent - for lack of a better term. I reason that we as an organism learned what was successful as a a side effect of evolution, or whatever you want to call it. Even if we were not consciously aware / do not remember / were a different organism altogether, but along the path that lead us here. The closing questions were rhetorical, and you seemed to ask a couple to.

I think initially, I did not respond because it was my appraisal that you were treating krahri not as an example for a question, but as a character that you wanted to point at and say "this is my answer". As such, I still have nothing more than clarification to contribute.
Jan. 16th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)

Jan. 18th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC)
It''s been such a while, I can barely recall the points I was originally trying to make, and now have to look at them with a slightly more appraising eye. This is good.

It's my personal inclination to look at people like Krahri as "characters". That's basically my personality and I think you're right that it contributed to the way in which I interpreted the "character". But it's not nessecarily scientifically feasable. Wishful thinking does not make a thing so. Still, ultimately Krahri here IS only a hypothetical being. We don't have a genuine, real life example of a sentient AI whi wants to get married to judge on. Therefore it's a lot easier to philosophise and wonder about "him" - and we can't be sure of the accuracy of our ideas because we don't have a real example to base them on.

Setting that aside and looking at what you say about biological intelligence (I'm the girl who failed Human Bio miserably, so bear with me)I have to wonder: IS marriage bilogically intelligent and did it evolve in that way? You're probably right, though Im not the right kind of person to judge that. Pairing for life may well be a biological logical act (though if so, why doesn't it happen more often amongst other non human species?), and it's typical of humans to attach symbolism and ritual to such things -turning life pairig for biological practicality, into marriage, with all the religious, spiritual and social strings and traditions attached.

But does Krahri NEED that? It's not like he can procreate.
Jan. 18th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
Marriage is probably not strictly a biologically intelligent arrangement. But it is a pattern or behavior the majority have been "programmed" to look to as the most favorable choice. The fact of the matter is, that humans are not naturally monogamous, like a few mammals, fish, and handful of bird species. On the other hand, marriage may indeed be pretty biologically intelligent insofar as reducing sexual partners is a good way to reduce the chances of catching or passing on a some diseases.

You ask why Krahri wants to get married. Why indeed? I'm sure it makes sense to him, but from my point of view there is a crippling lack of data provided. Marriage is not just for procreation. It's possible kra just wants a pal, or that he wants to see what the big deal is, or that he's just trying to cause mischief so that he might watch the meatbags fuss. Maybe he has the definition completely wrong, and thinks it means lunch, and he wants to experience the satisfaction of reaping nutrients via gastrointestinal means.

(That last one is intentionally absurd, by the way. It would be difficult for someone who has the internet hooked up to his head to so dramatically misinterpret a definition. Probably impossible without clever little simians interfering somehow.)

I say that we can't answer many of the questions posed with the present sum of knowledge on kra. You made the example, is there a "right" answer you are waiting for someone to stumble on?
Jan. 18th, 2009 01:06 pm (UTC)
I have some bad wording up there, I mean to communicate that humans are not naturally monogamous whereas a few mammals, a few fish, and a handful of birds are.
Jan. 18th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
Good question... and it's more difficult for me to answer than it probably should be. I think overall I'd prefer . But given that we can't even accurately interpet the motivations of the HUMAN brain, I don't hoenstly think it would be any easier or more possible to interpret an artifical one. If there is an answer to this question (and I think we're basically dancing around with metaphysics here) then I doubt it'll show up in my lifetime.

Maybe Krahri just wants what he wants. I've heard humans give worse explanations...

Do you think there is (or might be) a right answer?
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