Someasy

@Someasy@lemmy.world

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Someasy,

The most sophisticated AI imaginable short of it becoming sentient, let’s say.

Someasy,

It didn’t really, it said people may choose both. It’s also an AI. I wanted to see what real people thought. I thought this was a good question.

Someasy,

It refers to objects, they refers to sentience or the fact of “someone” being a conscious individual rather than just a “something”.

But in this case, they would be acknowledging on some level, even superficially, AI’s personality and agency to a degree.

Someasy,

Thanks, I’m not sure why it’s downvoted either. It surprised me, usually questions like this trigger interest.

I think that by most estimations, we can assume that AI are not actually sentient currently and don’t have the ability for sentience as there is no mechanism that would allow for them to experience consciousness subjectively, unlike animals including humans which we can scientifically state have not only behaviours consistent with consciousness and feeling but also biological mechanisms that we know to be what make us capable of a subjective experience. AI is highly intelligent, but so are many computers and machines, with AI this is just taken to another level where it’s able to replicate the simulation of a personality. I agree that the answers given by AI itself which is programmed wouldn’t be the best way to determine this, but rather objective computer science and technology of humans independent of an AI system.

So again I think it’s pretty much factual that AIs aren’t capable of sentience currently, and it’s a debatable topic whether more upgraded or evolved forms of AI could be physically capable of perceiving experience/sentience even in the future as a hypothetical, though I definitely wouldn’t rule that out.

That said, I don’t think the fact they aren’t sentient can prevent us from addressing them as if they were, given they exhibit a very convincing presentation of a sentient personality even if that isn’t the case.

To me, it would feel odd for example to address them as “it” if they were even more convincingly like a human but simply weren’t conscious, hypothetically. This would then be approaching something similar to the "philosophical zombie" thought experiment where a being is physically identical to a normal person but does not have conscious experience. So, a being that behaves exactly like a human but technically doesn’t experience anything/isn’t sentient. That would definitely feel strange for me to still call them an “it”, or a something, rather than a “they” or a someone.

However, I think at the current level of faithfulness, of even the most advanced AI, to a human being, they aren’t convincing enough and still too machine-like for me to definitively say that I would be uncomfortable calling them “it”, unlike the philosophical zombie where I would be uncomfortable calling them “it”.

Someasy,

Thank you for your great response and your knowledge and insight.

“The implication is that an AI is an “it” because it’s not a person.”

To me, the reason to designate something as a “they” (singular, gender neutral, as in “they are an x”) rather than an “it”, is whether the term is in reference to a conscious/sentient being that could be seen as having a personality, or to an unconscious entity or object. Like you pointed out, people often refer to animals such as dogs and cats as “they” rather than “it”, especially when a person doesn’t know their sex. For example “I was chased around by this dog, and they were licking me”. While other people might still use “it”, I personally think “they” is more of a charitable acknowledgement of their personality (rather than “its personality”), and might potentially lead to treating them with more consideration than as designated similarly to objects.

But with AI that can replicate a personality without actually having consciousness, this seems to get very murky in my opinion. Technically using the same logic you might call an AI an “it” rather than a “they”, since they aren’t sentient/conscious (as far as we can determine currently at least), but when they convincingly present themselves as having a personality, it seems to warrant a consideration on whether to still use “it” or to perhaps use “they” instead. Not that there would necessarily be a reason to do so, but it seems like odd territory, especially when considering the hypothetical of the philosophical zombie, or possibly a highly advanced (but non-sentient) AI that was so faithfully replicating the behaviour of a human being that they could be interpreted the same way as a human, despite not having any consciousness whatsoever. Do we still call that like-a-human-but-not-a-human-and-not-conscious being an “it”, or would that feel inaccurate and warrant calling them a “they” due to their clear personality that appears identical to conscious personalities that we acknowledge?

“And just to throw another theoretical biology stick in the spokes, is an ant colony an “it” or a “they,” and why?”

I think that an ant colony could be called an it, just like a group of humans or a group of any animals could be called an “it”. While distinctly to this, I think an individual ant, given their consciousness/sentience, can be referred to as a “they”, similar to other conscious/sentient animals, including humans, or any hypothetical conscious/sentient beings for that matter. If we found an alien being on another planet that was conscious/sentient, it still makes sense to me to refer to them as a “they/them”, unless of course their gender was known in which case they could be a he/she, or whatever they identify as if they express that (purely hypothetically).

Someasy, (edited )

Yes, I meant singular they. “They” isn’t typically used for objects in the singular (“it” usually is used there). Nothing I’m saying has to do with plural pronouns, I should’ve made that clear. It’s about he/she/they vs it (designating an entity as a personality vs an object, you might say).

And I think any entity with a personality could merit potentially referring to them as he/she/they, rather than “it”. If they’re conscious then I think it’s definitely warranted, which is why I think “he/she/they” shouldn’t be restricted to humans only, and should apply to all animals (or sentient animals which are at least the majority), as well as any other hypothetical sentient beings such as sentient AIs or sentient aliens.

Non-sentient AIs are what I’m really asking about though, but ones so complex that they demonstrate something resembling a personality. That’s where it gets tricky about whether to designate them as “he/she/they” or as “it”, personally. Presuming they don’t specify a “faux gender” (like calling Amazon’s Alexa a “she” without really acknowledging Alexa as a female), and if they were gender neutral/gender unspecified, the decision would probably be between calling them either (singular) “they”, or “it”.

In my opinion, given the lack of sentience, I wouldn’t see a problem with calling non-sentient AIs “it”, but if they were hypothetically complex enough to faithfully represent a human for example, I would then struggle to call them “it” and might have to go with “they”.

Someasy, (edited )

If anyone is interested, you can call food and drink collectively “victuals”. That’s another one I was looking for.

Someasy,

“Entering meatspace for a lil bit” 🤓

Someasy,

Sorry I didn’t mean to make fun, bio break is an excellent term

Someasy,

You were getting more victuals 😉 (food and drinks)

Someasy,

I realised and corrected it just as you commented, lol. Thanks

Someasy,

I feel like a complete dumbass saying “vinctuals” just now. What a dumbass I was a minute ago.

Someasy,

“1s and 2s”? … no, not good enough.

Someasy,

Peelooping

Someasy,

This sounds like a different thing I’m imagining now. If anyone’s seen Upload

Someasy,

I guess it does, but it also seems to imply a small snack or small drink rather than being able to refer to meals and drinks of any size…

Someasy,

Urinate > micturate tbh… micturate sounds like you’re doing something ungodly to a mouse.

Someasy,

What if you’re in the jungle?

Someasy,

Void

I think this is the one.

Someasy,

Thank you for your contributions.

Someasy,

Brilliant! Thanks

Someasy,

Those are great lmao.

And wow yes, I hate it when someone says “I’m going to pee/piss” or “I need to take a shit”. Like just say you’re going to the bathroom, or, you know, voiding (jk) like a normal person.

Someasy,

Old meme, this is not the debate raging on because I saw this exact image ages ages ages ago. Just saying

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