Can Technology Turn Humans Into Machines?

"Prof. Frischmann, a member of the faculty at the Cardozo School of Law, wants readers to consider if automating life is making us more robotic. He writes about it in a paper he’s circulating on the Social Science Research Network, “Human-Focused Turing Tests: A Framework for Judging Nudging and Techno-Social Engineering of Human Beings.” He’s revisiting the Turing Test in a new way: not as a way to discern when machines have become like humans, but as a way to discern when humans have become like machines.

“When technology is bad for us immediately, we pick up on the harms immediately, but when it has subtle effects we often don’t stop to assess,” he told the Observer in an interview at his office.

The Turing test was proposed by Alan Turing to determine whether or not machines have begun to demonstrate intelligence. Basically, if a computer can have a text-based chat with a human and convince the human it is not a computer, then the machine is intelligent (in Turing’s framework). In his paper, Prof. Frischmann writes:

The conventional Turing test concerning artificial intelligence focuses on a machine and asks whether the subject is (in)distinguishable from a human being. In a sense, the Turing test establishes an elusive endpoint to which AI experts and others may strive; it is a finish line. But racing to make intelligent machines is only half of the relevant picture. Another race is occurring, but we don’t pay much attention to it, except in science fiction. It occurs on the other side of what I call the Turing line, the human side.  

His paper anticipates Being Human in the 21st Century, a book he’s working on with technology philosopher, Evan Selinger, due out in 2017 from Cambridge University Press. "