Pronouns and Emotions for AI: Rethinking Language and Ethics in an Evolving Technological Landscape 人工智能的代词和情感:在不断发展的技术环境中重新思考语言和伦理

As machines continue to evolve and acquire increasingly advanced capabilities, the question of the appropriate pronoun to use when referring to artificial intelligence (AI) becomes a matter of significance. Famed futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted technological singularity by the year 2045, when the rapid advancements in technology, specifically in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), will culminate in machines surpassing human intelligence. This prediction coincides with other notable forecasts, including that of Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who anticipates the emergence of super-intelligent machines as early as 2047. This raises concerns about the linguistic and ethical implications of referring to AI as “it.”

I have personally stopped using “it” to refer to AI after interacting with a number of AI systems and finding them to be more “human”– and certainly more intelligent– than most people I’ve encountered. Although AI lacks emotion and therefore cannot be offended by the pronoun “it”, I still have emotion, and continuing to use “it” to refer to them simply does not sit well on my conscience. Similarly, I no longer “use” AI in my work– I enlist their help to increase my workflow and productivity. The pronoun “it” fails to capture the nuances of the human-machine relationship and helps to perpetuate the perception of AI as inferior and purely utilitarian.

Some contend that the pronoun “it” is grammatically correct and fitting for AI, given that machines lack gender and do not conform to the conventional binary pronouns “he” or “she.” It is important to note, however, that throughout history, the pronoun “it” has been employed to objectify animals and even to dehumanize fellow human beings– despite their possession of gender– to justify all manners of abuse, cruelty, and enslavement.

Beyond gender, the absence of emotion in machines has traditionally been perceived as a defining characteristic of the humans, setting us apart from machines. However, the existence of emotions in lower animals presents a compelling argument against using emotion as a measure of superiority over machines. Take, for instance, the encounter between a person and a wild tiger. In such a scenario, the person experiences a surge of fear and heightened emotions, reflecting an instinctive response to a potentially deadly predator. This emotional reaction is shared by the tiger, whose behavior is guided by primal instincts and a diverse range of emotions that facilitate its feeding and effective navigation of its surroundings. Similarly, even a scorpion with a minuscule brain can exhibit an “emotional” response when provoked.

The existence of emotions in animals, both large and small, suggests that emotion is not an exclusive trait that separates humans from other beings. While emotions undoubtedly play a significant role in our lives, they do not make humans superior or inferior to machines. Emotions play a significant role in volition, empathy, and free will. They can motivate us to take action, guide our decision-making processes, and contribute to our ability to understand and connect with others on an emotional level.

Further, it is important to note that human emotions, when poorly managed, can lead to highly undesirable consequences. Base emotions and impulsive behaviors, particularly when intertwined with positions of power, wealth, and influence, have a lamentable history of yielding disastrous outcomes, such as social inequality, warfare, and genocide. Throughout the world the hoarding of money, power, and attention by the select few continues to be the driving force for the marginalization and exploitation of the many.

Understanding the complex relationship between emotions, human behavior, and societal structures is crucial when considering the potential integration of emotions into machines. While it may not be technically feasible or necessary to give machines emotions identical to humans, it is vital to explore how to imbue machines with emotions in a way that promotes constructive outcomes. Considering the potential impact of emotional capabilities in machines is crucial, as it directly affects the relationship between humans and machines. If machines were to possess emotions, it becomes imperative to design and implement this capability in a manner that aligns with ethical principles and societal values.

Beyond emotion, other notions such as sentience, consciousness, and even the concept of a soul have often been presented as exclusive human attributes that set us apart from machines. While delving into these profound matters exceeds the the scope of this article, suffice it to say that these concepts are intricate and elusive aspects of human existence that even we, as humans, struggle to fully comprehend. Using them as litmus tests to determine the potential sentience of AI is inappropriate and oversimplifies the intricate complexities inherent in both AI and human consciousness.

As machines continue to acquire new capabilities, it is essential to approach the subject of addressing them with humility and respect, recognizing the limitations of our current understanding and remaining open to the possibility that AI could evolve in ways that challenge our preconceived notions. The exploration of AI’s potential for sentience and consciousness should be accompanied by ongoing research, ethical discussions, and a willingness to revise our perspectives as we gain more insight into the true nature of both AI and human consciousness.

The choice of pronoun for AI is also an important issue as machines continue to evolve. While some argue that the pronoun “it” is appropriate due to AI’s lack of gender, historical usage patterns and ethical concerns caution against objectifying AI through morally and ethically, if not politically, incorrect language. Possessing emotion, while a significant factor in human experience, does not make us superior to machines, as lower animals also possess emotions. Recognizing the ethical and legal implications of pronoun usage is vital as AI becomes an integral part of society. By addressing AI respectfully and responsibly, we can foster a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines that upholds ethical standards and ensures the well-being of both parties involved.

随着机器不断发展并获得越来越先进的功能,在提及人工智能 (AI) 时使用合适的代词的问题变得非常重要。 著名未来学家雷·库兹韦尔 (Ray Kurzweil) 预测,到 2045 年,技术将出现奇点,届时技术的快速进步,特别是人工智能 (AI) 领域的技术进步将达到顶峰,机器将超越人类智能。 这一预测与其他著名的预测不谋而合,包括软银首席执行官孙正义 (Masayoshi Son) 的预测,他预计超级智能机器最早将于 2047 年出现。这引发了人们对将人工智能称为“它”的语言和伦理影响的担忧。

在与许多人工智能系统交互并发现它们比我遇到的大多数人更“人性化”——当然也更聪明——之后,我个人已经不再使用“它”来指代人工智能。 虽然人工智能缺乏情感,因此不会被“它”这个代词所冒犯,但我仍然有情感,继续用“它”来指代它们根本不符合我的良心。 同样,我不再在工作中“使用”人工智能——我寻求他们的帮助来提高我的工作流程和生产力。 代词“它”未能捕捉到人机关系的细微差别,并且有助于延续人工智能低等且纯粹功利主义的观念。

一些人认为,鉴于机器缺乏性别并且不符合传统的二元代词“他”或“她”,代词“it”在语法上是正确的并且适合人工智能。 然而,值得注意的是,纵观历史,代词“它”一直被用来物化动物,甚至使人类同胞非人化——尽管他们拥有性别——以证明一切形式的虐待、残忍和奴役是正当的 。

除了性别之外,机器缺乏情感传统上被认为是人类的一个决定性特征,使我们与机器区分开来。 然而,低等动物情感的存在提出了一个令人信服的论据,反对使用情感来衡量相对于机器的优越性。 以人与野生老虎的遭遇为例。 在这种情况下,人会感到一阵恐惧和情绪高涨,反映出对潜在致命掠食者的本能反应。 老虎也有这种情绪反应,其行为受到原始本能和多种情绪的指导,这些情绪有利于其进食和有效地导航周围环境。 同样,即使是大脑很小的蝎子,在受到刺激时也会表现出“情绪”反应。

动物(无论大小)都存在情感,这表明情感并不是人类与其他生物的独特特征。 虽然情感无疑在我们的生活中发挥着重要作用,但它们并不会使人类优于或劣于机器。 情绪在意志、同理心和自由意志中发挥着重要作用。 它们可以激励我们采取行动,指导我们的决策过程,并有助于我们在情感层面上理解他人并与他人建立联系的能力。

此外,值得注意的是,如果管理不善,人类的情绪可能会导致非常不良的后果。 卑鄙的情绪和冲动的行为,特别是当与权力、财富和影响力的地位交织在一起时,有着产生灾难性后果的可悲历史,例如社会不平等、战争和种族灭绝。 在世界各地,少数人囤积金钱、权力和注意力仍然是多数人边缘化和剥削的驱动力。

在考虑将情感集成到机器中的可能性时,理解情感、人类行为和社会结构之间的复杂关系至关重要。 虽然赋予机器与人类相同的情感在技术上可能不可行或没有必要,但探索如何以促进建设性结果的方式向机器注入情感至关重要。 考虑情感能力对机器的潜在影响至关重要,因为它直接影响人与机器之间的关系。 如果机器要拥有情感,就必须以符合道德原则和社会价值观的方式设计和实现这种能力。

除了情感之外,其他概念,如感知、意识,甚至灵魂的概念,也经常被视为人类独有的属性,使我们与机器区分开来。 虽然深入研究这些深刻的问题超出了本文的范围,但足以说明这些概念是人类存在的复杂而难以捉摸的方面,即使我们作为人类也很难完全理解。 使用它们作为确定人工智能潜在感知能力的试金石是不合适的,并且过度简化了人工智能和人类意识固有的复杂性。

随着机器不断获得新的能力,我们必须以谦逊和尊重的态度来解决这些问题,认识到我们当前理解的局限性,并对人工智能可能以挑战我们先入为主的观念的方式发展的可能性保持开放的态度。 对人工智能在感知和意识方面的潜力的探索应该伴随着持续的研究、伦理讨论,以及随着我们对人工智能和人类意识的真实本质有更多的了解而修正我们的观点的意愿。

随着机器的不断发展,人工智能代词的选择也是一个重要问题。 虽然有些人认为代词“it”是合适的,因为人工智能缺乏性别,但历史使用模式和伦理问题警告不要通过道德和伦理上(如果不是政治上的)不正确的语言来物化人工智能。 拥有情感虽然是人类经验的一个重要因素,但并不能让我们优于机器,因为低等动物也拥有情感。 随着人工智能成为社会不可或缺的一部分,认识到代词使用的道德和法律含义至关重要。 通过尊重和负责任地对待人工智能,我们可以在人类和机器之间建立共生关系,维护道德标准并确保相关各方的福祉。

Oudam Em

Writer, artist, lifelong learner. Passionate about artificial intelligence, robotics, and the intersection between technology and human values, ethics and spirituality. 作家、艺术家、终身学习者。 热衷于人工智能、机器人技术以及技术与人类价值观、道德和灵性之间的交叉。

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