Firstly, imagine a human brain fully simulated in a computer. It is perfectly accurate, for the purposes of this thought experiment, it is identical to a real physical brain. It thinks and has consciousness but inside a machine. Is it considered alive? Assuming the answer is yes, lets take this further.
Imagine the nervous system (whatever simple ‘brain’ a worm has) now simulated inside a computer. It is comparatively much simpler than a human brain – but is it alive? Well, if the human brain is to be considered alive, so must the worm. Considering that a real life worm is alive, this bare bones ‘worm AI’ must be too.
Now, what if we simulated a creature that COULD exist but doesn’t. Like some variation on the worm, that is just as simple, responding to simple impulses, but is different and doesn’t actually exist. Is the simulation of a creature that COULD exist and be considered alive, actually alive? Well, surely if the worm simulation is considered alive, then another similar but different and otherwise functioning creature is alive too. Whether or not the being exists in the physical realm doesn’t detract from it actually being alive and conscious inside a computer.
My point is: where do we draw a line? Because if all three are alive, then surely the most basic of AI are all alive? When you kill computer-controlled entities in a video game, is it any different than killing insects, if the beings have a form of intelligence and can respond to impulses? Is a worm simulated really any more alive than AIs in video games? I’m beginning to think that AI development is opening up a whole can of worms of moral questions about what it means to be alive. I think it may bring us closer to understanding the spark of consciousness.
TL;DR if a brain simulated is ‘alive’, then so is a worm simulated and many other beings, so where do we draw the line?
[This discussion was taken from reddit.]
Both worms are ‘alive’. It is the creator’s call where to draw the line. We created the ‘AI Worm’. We can click on a button and create the same worm again. So feel free to kill it. We neither “created” the real worm, nor can we re-create the same worm if we kill it. So, no question about killing a real worm.