Mines to become android friendly

This month, Mines announced that it would begin implementing measures to make the campus android friendly by 2015. “People may be laughing at us now,” said Panel for the Integration of Non-Organic Students member Ada Galatea, “but AI is advancing faster than everyone thinks. Machines with the ability for simple insight and critical thought already exist. Given that some Mines students can’t pass tests without review sheets containing specific algorithmic problem-solving techniques, simple insight and critical thought would be enough to put them at the top of their class.”

Not everyone is as comfortable as Galatea with the abilities of androids. “Sure,” said Parent Coalition spokesperson John Searle, “it sounds all warm and fuzzy and equal-rights-y right now. But we all know that androids are not people, and they never will be. But their fancy-pants programming and circuitry will allow them to outperform our children shortly, and what then? How are they supposed to compete with machines that actually have a work ethic and don’t spend their entire day complaining about how hard the classes are while watching videos of cats online? Even worse, what happens when they start taking our jobs?”

Galatea dismissed such concerns with a laugh. “Even if they do ‘take our jobs,’” she said, “won’t that mean more free time for us? I think people forget that if machines do all the work, it results in much more efficient production of resources and an eventual increase in standard of living, even if it cuts off a wage in the here and now.” Instead of trying to scare people away from the AI revolution, Galatea said people should try to smooth the transition. “There’s so much fun logistics in this,” she said, “for example, when do we start admitting them to universities? Will a traditional education even be necessary by the time they’re ready for skilled professions, or will it be possible to code in everything they need to know in a flash? I think the former is true, of course.”

Both philosophical and practical issues are being explored. “When androids are smart,” Galatea said “and I mean truly smart, not the scientist who made me thinks I’m the best thing since the popcorn button smart, will they want to have fun? Will they need personalities and ‘physical’ drives similar to hunger to develop cognitive and metacognitive abilities the way we understand them? Will they need to be social beings? How will humans react to androids in everyday life? Will there be some form of discrimination or envy that has to be countered? Can the campus be made to accommodate their possible physical or mobility limitations? How will they charge their batteries, and how often will it need to be done? These are all questions we need to ask before giving CSM the ‘android friendly’ stamp.”

Amidst the many controversies and open questions involved in integrating non-biological students, is it really worth it? Said Galatea, “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know. It could be that all of us on the PINS committee are crazy, that both AI development and this project slump in a few years. But, hey, at least we can say we tried. If current trends keep continuing, if our educational system here in the US keeps dropping in the rankings, people will be scrambling for any solution in a few years. It’s obvious that if we continue to rely on the biological students we’re seeing right now, we simply can’t stay competitive as a university and as a nation.”

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