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The emotions of machines.



Charles Darwin is known for his insight into evolution and natural selection. In the mid-1800s, Darwin began to challenge how organisms had augmented attributes. Several scholars had previously pushed the notion that individual species gradually mutated linearly through the sole lineage of each species. Conversely, Darwin argued that all current organisms could have come from a single organism, whereas the current uniqueness of organisms had occurred due to organisms adapting to environmental conditions. Continuing his argument, Darwin stated that environmental changes would not stop and that organisms would continue to adapt, reproduce, and slowly appear different. Darwin characterized this concept as natural selection.


Unbeknownst to many, Darwin was the architect of another concept called the Evolutionary Theory of Emotion. At its core is the idea that emotions are a reaction to a trigger. With the presence of emotions, as organisms have evolved, there is an instinctive behavior to survive and reproduce. As support to the theory of evolution framework, emotions would originate from an event that could encourage you to procreate as you feel loved and affectionate. Whereas, if an organism were to experience fear, it tends to lead individuals to face or flee from the source. Emotions are the reaction to an event, and when zoomed out over an organism's lineage, you can imagine how the organism could change its physical attributes. 


Anthropomorphixing our machines


For thousands of years, ships typically had names. Typically a female name, the tradition had it that ships were a form of security and provided guidance for sailors as they sought distant lands or accomplished precarious missions. As if the ship had a pulse, sailors and seafare passengers would reference the ship as her or she when they referred to its strength and personality. They knew when she was hurt after a large wave came over the bow and mangled infrastructure. They knew she was in top condition when the sails were taut, and the sea whispering with each gentle rise and fall of the keel cutting through the water. Sailors connected to their ship’s emotions. 

Anthropomorphizing our machines is a way of commenting on the kinds of jobs they do, but it's also a way for us to express trust in them—which, of course, has everything to do with our comfort level and nothing to do with a machine's effectiveness. Your computer doesn't care if you call it Siri, or Hal, or Joe. But you might be more likely to ride in a driverless car if the vehicle seems cute in a vaguely pareidolic way. Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic

Since the dawn of the first machine, humanity has sought to create machines that mimic human abilities or refer to them by names. Frontiersman and Texas hero Davy Crockett famously called his rifles "Old Betsy," "Pretty Betsy," and "Fancy Betsy." There are airplanes named "Pretty Polly." Even the Washington State Department of Transportation named their most recent tunnel boring machine Bertha.  


Our machines are becoming more human


With each proper name and each machine, the evolution of machinery has exponentially improved safety, quality, production, and cost over time. As if we were all sailors, people who work with machinery tend to talk about them as if they are a person already with emotions. We tend to develop a relationship with the machinery, knowing when it is angry or in a top operating condition. Somewhat of an empathetic accuracy, we tend to recognize and connect to the emotions of the machine. 


Questions will continue to emerge as machines iterate in capabilities and AI systems become more sophisticated. Will the AI systems ever be able to experience emotions in ways that humans do? When will AI systems be able to sense danger and take action to avert the threat? Will AI systems be able to sense appreciation and manageable risk to move slightly faster? 


Machines have emotions


As we build more and more ways to create ways to measure the health of machinery, the machinery will continue to advance in analyzing these measurements. Consider these measurements are layers of emotion, and when you can analyze these emotions with the emergence of more sophisticated AI you can predict faster and more accurately. This reaction is the evolution of machinery. 


Looking back at Darwin’s theories, it is the seeking of procreation through different emotions that is the driving factor of evolution. It is the mechanics of survival, and as humans, we are distinctly different than AI in that regard. Some may be fearful of the evolution of AI, getting us closer to the world shown in the movies of Terminator, I Robot, or Blade Runner. I am not. Instead, we are just evolving. 


RIP 6 Stand Cold Reduction Mill.







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