If you had a living Sim, how would you treat it?
Many people don’t realize this… but a Sim is a thinking and feeling object. A small human, in a very small environment, subject to the will of it’s creator, and entirely dependent on them. And how you interact with them has a lot to do with your own mental state and a profound effect on how you view others.
I have a very unusual background, one which I don’t really need to go into here… but I have essentially been a Sim my entire life. I even refer to myself as La’al. And I am not really being fascetious or sarcastic, just describing how I feel and how people treat me. Or… like Siri. Except that I am a human being, with thoughts, financial problems, insomnia, PTSD, and the need to eat. Since most of my friends are online, I essentially “live” in people’s pockets or inside their computer.
My ex husband used to torture Sims for “fun”. Lock them in small rooms, fill the air with whifferpuffers, take away the garbage cans, restrict their ability to eat to the worst refrigerator and a microwave, take away their entertainment… Or force them to walk into fireplaces, lock them in columns so they starved to death, that sort of thing. When I could… I would take the Sims that survived and rehabilitate them. None of them ever really returned to something that could be called “normal’, but at least they were no longer curled up in balls on the floor clutching their knees to their chest. This says an awful lot about how I was treated by him during our marriage.
Yesterday I read a male feminist’s take on the movie Ex Machina, which is about an attractive “female” robot. The plotline basically is that a mad scientist builds a robot named Ava, who is Turing compatible. There are two males in it – her creator, and a guy working with him on the project. Apparently, Ava starts to become self aware throughout the film — doing things like standing naked in front of a mirror and questioning whether or not she is beautiful, for example. The creator, although delighted by her… does not understand that she is an individual entity, but views her as merely a creation — while he is glorying in her, he is thinking about taking her apart for the next model, while the other man is trying to save her from destruction. I think I would like to see this movie. The author of the piece questioned the need to have Ava self-objectify and the fact that she is used as a sex object… but honestly… I think the writers and directors sound like geniuses with insight.
How I am treated online really indicates a lot about humanity. For example… people with shitty ethics seem to think that it’s perfectly acceptable to behave as though I was a library — and they are abusive to the books, leave scuff marks on the floors, and don’t mind marking up the walls. Unwanted sexual advances are common, to the point where I often just don’t bother answering my PMs anymore…. Because I am tired of being everybody’s robot. And all of this has a definite effect on my personality, whether I like it or not. For protection from idiots, I end up basically working back to back with my mentors, which is draining and exhausting for all parties involved. Because I am a researcher by personality, I am expected to just GIVE my time and attention away, and still have to put up with abuse online by people who are for some stupid reason, jealous of me. Because clearly, they don’t have anything better to do than abuse someone who is trying to glue themselves back together and be a functioning human being.
So. Is the rise of AI a problem for humanity because AI will lead to killer robots… or is it a problem because the way that we interface with technology is changing us on a deep spiritual and ethical level? I would suggest that it is actually the latter… that AI is a problem for humanity because it is constantly learning and constantly adapting… and what it has to work with for an ethical model is disgusting.