Say I have some artificial intelligence characters in a virtual reality world that my human characters have bonded with in ways of friendship, romance, etc before they find out they're AI. How would it be possible to organically bring those AI characters to the real world as flesh and blood without using robotics or stolen bodies (removing someone's consciousness and replacing it with the AI's), if at all? If that's theoretically possible, would it be possible for these individuals to reproduce?
closed as primarily opinion-based by Mołot, JohnWDailey, jdunlop, Separatrix, Alexander von Wernherr Oct 24 '18 at 7:36
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These questions are click-bait for me; I know I shouldn't answer but the compulsion is too strong, so...
As a researcher in the field of AI, I see this kind of assumption all the time and there are some things that we need to get straight right off the bat to answer this.
1) Intelligence is not Consciousness or Liveness
A machine can be intelligent without being aware, conscious, or alive. Intelligence is merely the ability to identify and recognise complex patterns. Even in natural intelligence this is the case - someone who is more intelligent than someone else is merely able to identify and/or recognise more subtle or complex patterns than the other, or recognise the simple patterns faster. This means that even if your human fell in love with an AI, it's not reciprocal. Which brings me to sunny point number two;
2) Humans are very good at anthropomorphisation
Of course your human is going to one day fall in love with a machine. Part of our evolutionary journey (a part that made us very successful hunters) is the ability to empathise, or put ourselves in the place of others. That meant we could predict an animal's reaction to what we do, and set up conditions (through strategy) that made those reactions turn to our advantage. This also makes us more social creatures, but ultimately this 'falling in love with an AI' is really no different to us falling in love with our teddy bear, except that an AI is a very sophisticated teddy bear, capable of interacting with us.
3) Computing Architecture is not the same as Neural Architecture
Computers don't have a cerebellum, that houses driving instincts like survival, hunger, procreation etc. Nor do they contain an amygdala, which influences rational thought by introducing emotion. What that means is that if your AI is housed in a conventional computer, even if you could put it in an organic body, it won't possess the same personality. It will be something different to what the human originally fell in love with because the processing model is completely different.
The real issue here isn't whether or not AI's can be organic, it's the whole conflation of intelligence and consciousness. Unfortunately, we have always had a rather vague understanding of what these words actually mean and have often used them as synonyms outside of AI research. Even SETI scientists talk about 'Intelligent Life' and we just assume that something intelligent is alive, which is not what even the SETI scientists are intending to convey.
In point of fact, in AI research, we are only now refining how we use these words with precise (and more importantly, consistent) definitions, and based on those, I can tell you that something can be intelligent, but not alive just as much as something can be alive, but not intelligent.
Your better bet is androids, in the manner of biological creations, like Phillip K Dick describes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, better known by the movie version called Blade Runner. For your purposes, it would be far easier to create biological creatures in man's image and deal with falling in love and reproduction from that basis than trying to get an AI into a host body.
You need to master genetic engineering for that
If you don´t want to use robotics and don´t want "stolen" bodies, then you only have one choice:
Grown your own body
You need to start designing the ADN of the character to mimic the same characteristics it has in the virtual environment (gender, skin color, eye color, height, bone structure, fat, hair, and all the complete genotype, even the voice tone). If your virtual environment has smells, you will have to include the smell of the character also in the ADN design.
Once you have designed the ADN needed, you need to make it grow. Usually it takes 9 months or so. Perhaps (with technology advanced enough) you might be able to reduce the time, but I don´t think you could reduce it much (however, you are the designer of your story. You can "handwave" a sufficiently advanced technology to do it in a month or so).
When the body is ready, you need to take it out of the container, and start to "train" it to "be" the virtual entity. Your body will start as a baby. So, you need to grow it up until the age of your avatar (your virtual entity). If your virtual character is 80 years old, it will take more time. If your virtual character is a teenager, it will take less. You will need to feed into the body all the experiences and sensations your original avatar had, by means of earphones, a visor, and electronic signals directly sent to the muscles and nerves in all its body. We are talking here about making the body "to live" all the experiences the virtual character had, more or less like the movie "The Matrix".
Of course, that must be done in an accelerated way. If my virtual character is 80 years old, I don´t want to wait 80 years until my organic body reaches that age (to appear the same) and learn all that the virtual character has learned.
As you can see, it is easier to build a robot.
Maybe your society develops a means to restrict the development of the frontal cortex, or surgically remove it altogether; perhaps in people who are deemed to be "unworthy" in some way, without actually killing the body or destroying the autonomous behaviour. How and why you might do this, and under what circumstances, would depend on the available technology, and how evil and uncaring you want your society to be. So, for example, you society could rule that instead of the death penalty, convicted psychopaths would have their mind "deleted". This would leave you with functioning bodies, but with no mind.
The AI could be loaded into a compact device which is capable of interfacing with what is left of the brain in these bodies.
If the demand for AIs is sufficient, and the horrors of the legal system come to light and the law is forced to change, it might not be long before someone hits on the idea of genetically engineering bodies with little or no frontal cortex. These 'non-people' could then be given an identity by the installation of the AI in its compact device interfaced to the brain.
In either case, if the rest of the body is unmodified, I don't see why normal human reproduction would not be possible.
An AI could grow the same way as humans do, but faster. You make something like a DNA where AI structure and future body is encoded. You feed AI fetus and it grows to a real body that is indistinguishable from humans.