This controversy has brought several deep philosophical questions to light, one of the most potent of which is the idea about programming. If an AI is programmed to do a job, do they really have a choice to do anything else?
While generally considered by many to be the most permissive and equal culture for artificial intelligence in the galaxy, the Serenity Concord has come under fire recently from the Icarus League, an AI rights advocacy group based out of Nimbus Station. The passage of the Artificial Life Form Rights and Enforcement Act in 2384 has been promoted by the group as a “good start” toward truly equal rights between AI and biological life. The organization has recently began protesting how the Concord and in particular Solas Tempus make use of AI. In particular the group accuses Solas Tempus of forcing AI’s into militarized roles and as subservient to biological leadership. Recently the Icarus League has found an unlikely ally in a gender equality organization (Equality Alliance) primarily based out of the United Federation of Planets which fights for intervention in other cultures which show a clear gender bias in either enacting or executing laws.
The Icarus League has lodged a formal protest for what they claim is “an unfair militarization of AI programs”. The practice began with the advent of Multinodal Core and the Mark I Android Body. With the ability for an AI program to transfer safely to and from an android body, Solas Tempus has begun placing the Multinodal Core technology in new vessels giving ships as “Master Systems AI”. This AI program is responsible for not only running ships systems but may be called upon to complete missions in their entirety should the crew become incapacitated or killed. Such an AI is usually also a member of the command crew of the ship, most often 1st or 2nd officer.
The formal protest also notes that very few of the AI programs are granted true command positions, relegated to secondary positions such as “Operations Officer” or “Executive Officer” making them still subservient to biological masters. The League claims this is not only unfair but a violation of the 2384 rights act passed by the Concord. They have demanded the Solas Tempus release some proof that they are not exploiting AI programs and put a stop to the practice at once.
The Equality Alliance has lodged its own, separate, formal protest against Solas Tempus itself stating that the group has unfairly targeted female AI programs for placing as executive roles on new starships. Since the AI programs are predominantly identified as feminine the Equality Alliance has accused Solas Tempus and the Concord of “setting gender rights back at least two hundred years with short-sighted decisions based on ancient biases”.
We were able to reach Sal D’Amico for his comments on accusations of forcing AI programs to join the military.
Due to the passage of the AI rights act of 2384, the Concord has seen a major increase in the number of AI entity that have petitioned to become citizens of the Concord. It should be noted that no AI entity has been turned away in their request. Such entities are afforded the same rights as any other group, though many were created in military settings of other races, governments, and even companies. These entities wish to put those skills to use and a great many have applied to join Solas Tempus. Again no AI entity has been turned away from doing this. The program of giving a specialized role to AI programs wishing to serve in our space force as a “Master Systems AI” is not forced, positions are offered and very often asked for by AI programs. No AI has been forced or coerced into a position as a Master Systems AI and no AI has been denied an android body which has requested one.Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico of Solas Tempus
Admiral D’Amico is correct, there has been a definite surge in applicants to the Concord and to Solas Tempus of AI programs of various types since the AI rights act as passed two years ago. Many of these entities were in hiding for fear of being forced into servitude again. Even with these facts, the Admiral’s statement has fallen on deaf ears for both the League and Alliance. While Solas Tempus refuses to comment on the accusations of gender bias within its ranks, the Concord representative for the Schatten System Murrika was available for comment.
We are grateful for the passionate press for equal rights for all life. Recently we have been accused of the unconscionable practice of forcing an AI program to be feminine and serve at the behest of biological masculine people. This is quite simply not true, we value the sanctity of all life of all kinds and of all genders. We do not, nor will we ever, force a particular gender identity onto a sentient entity of any kind. Such actions would be illegal under the law, should any person or group have proof of such accusations, I challenge them to bring such proof to my doorstep or to our courts!Senator Murrika, Representative for the Schatten Star System
Our own survey of recent AI additions to the Concord and to Solas Tempus itself has seen that there is, in fact, an abundance of feminine AI entities from the XIA’s being created to AI programs which have moved to the Concord. We were able to speak to one of the very first prototypes of the XIA’s, Camila Xia.
You asked me if I was ever forced to do anything. I wasn’t, I have a job though. A lot of people have jobs and for most humans and other biological life they are left alone to figure that out on their own. I was programmed to do my job, I enjoy my job. I provide information to the person I’m assigned to. Sometimes that means I make notes on meetings, record events, do deep-dives into a particular research topic, or collect information. Most of the time what it means is that I study important topics and use my processing power to make connections that may or may not be difficult for many biological people to make in a short amount of time. I’m kind of an expert at whatever I need to be an expert on.
No one here has ever forced me to be a girl or join the military or anything else. I’m really upset that people think that just because I chose to be a girl means I was forced. Or just because I chose work for Solas Tempus, I was forced. It’s completely absurd and insulting.Lt. Commander Camila Xia of Solas Tempus
This controversy has brought several deep philosophical questions to light, one of the most potent of which is the idea about programming. If an AI is programmed to do a job, do they really have a choice to do anything else? This is a much deeper question and gets into the nature of choice. Advocates for AI rights say that it may not be true choice. Admiral D’Amico had a final comment on this issue when we spoke.
Most adults remember a time when they had to decide to keep doing what their parents wanted them to do or stop and make their own way. Some choose to go into a family business or follow a religion because it was what they were raised on, it is what they know. Others choose to break away and follow their own path. There are an infinite array of choices in between those extremes. How is that different from programming? We don’t like the word. No one likes to think of themselves as programmed but we are. Programmed with cultural beliefs, behaviors, rules, and so much more. All of our learned behavior are programs.Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico of Solas Tempus
Certainly there are a lot of questions to ask. Questions that are as difficult to understand as they are to answer. As with any controversy based on such questions, it is clear that there isn’t going to be a resolution anytime soon. Solas Tempus is committed to its continued use of AI programs on its vessels throughout the controversy. In fact a recent policy shift within the organization has created a military review board to determine proper ranks befitting the skills and positions of AI programs which have not previously been afforded ranks within the organization. Sources within Solas Tempus indicate this has been on the table for the last two years while they worked out exactly how to proceed. Moving forward the organization has committed to providing ranks and options to those AI programs which have previously not been explicitly provided with such.
While initially this new policy was to be overseen by the (mostly) biological leadership, the Icarus League has taken broad credit for pushing Solas Tempus into having a review process that involves AI programs. While the policy will not be entirely enacted by AI, Solas Tempus has agreed that there will be equal AI and biological representation. Officials declined to name names of who would be overseeing this process or who would participate.
Several advanced programmers and experts in the field of AI have also noted during the controversy on gender that most AI development uses adaptive neural networking to “grow” a consciousness out of base directives. Cited most often is the QUINN Type AI, whose framework has become the centerpiece of modern AI development. While there is some disagreement on the details it is widely considered that the AI personality, gender, and even sexuality are developed in an organic way. The AI neural network responds best with a very small set of directives and adding a gender and its facets to ensure the production of a feminine (or masculine) gender would be difficult, though not impossible. From our own research the current state of the art in AI growth state an AI personality begins to develop first as the neural network becomes more complex, in theory the gender of an AI develops at that time before an AI network becomes self aware or even conscious for the first time.
The details of how an AI neural network grows into a fully sentient, living, being are unclear. Perhaps as research moves forward more answers to these philosophical questions will be forthcoming.