Technology Convergence: Governance and Gaps in the Era of Enhancement (or “ZombAIs ante Portas!”)

Shawn Harmon, Wiebke Abel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The term “zombie” has been defined variously as “a mechanically driven human corpse,”1 “a supernatural power or spell that … can enter into and reanimate a corpse, and a corpse revived in this way”,2 and “a person who is or appears to be lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment; automaton”.3 Drawing on these definitions, a “zombAI” might be described as “an otherwise inert artificial intelligence-controlled human being.” Just as human zombies are very real,4 so zombAIs may (in future) become a reality. But what issues are thrown up by zombAIs? Is the law equipped to deal with them? What sort of reforms might be needed to govern them appropriately? This paper undertakes a very preliminary – indeed speculative – exploration of some of the issues implicated by the convergence of several high technologies and their potential to create zombAIs. After framing the assessment via a fictional scenario, we consider the state and trajectory of medical biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and artificial intelligence (AI), arguing that their convergence will lead to zombAIs and the scenario offered. Next, we identify some key social, ethical and legal issues raised by the scenario before querying the capacity of existing regulatory instruments to address these issues (i.e. to address the development of moral machines and intelligent implants). We conclude that there is a need for more “joined-up” regulation to govern such convergences, which will see the science fiction of today (both utopian and dystopian) become a reality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-350
JournalSCRIPTed
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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  • GikII 4

    Shawn Harmon (Speaker)

    Sep 2009

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  • GikII 4

    Wiebke Abel (Speaker)

    Sep 2009

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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