the immoral computer


“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.
“And you’re the millions he killed.”

Those lines are from a story called The Egg, by Andy Weir which describes how the "you" in the story meet God in the afterlife.



In the story, God reveals that you are all mankind, you are everyone living and dead, and everyone who will ever live, are all reincarnations of the same human spirit.

That you are every murder victim, and every murderer. You are Hitler and the millions he killed. You are every winner and every loser, and all of those people are part of you.

It's a powerful story, and just for a second gives you a sense of the vastness of the totality of human experience.

However its not a great leap to think of yourself as the current occupier of the crest of a vast wave of genetic ancestors.

Every human being today has within them the genetic material of ancestors who killed, who raped, and who ate while others starved. Each and every emotion or behaviour you have is the result of one of your ancestors surviving at the expense of another.

You are in a very real sense the genetic offspring of killers, rapists, and the raped. In order to live to procreate your ancestors have survived starvation, wounding, mutilation, horrible disease. They have fought wild animals, lived through droughts, ice-ages, floods and wars.

The history of your genes is part of how you relate to the world.

If you think of the "you" of your human mind in that context, it seems rather strange to think of an AI that can understand or have intentionality about the world in the same way humans have.

It's not that there is a disjoint in the continuum of intentionality between human intelligence and artificial intelligence, its that artificial intelligence has nothing to be intentional about.