1st Edition

Robot Souls Programming in Humanity

By Eve Poole Copyright 2024
    184 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    184 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Two of the biggest design problems in Artificial Intelligence are how to build robots that behave in line with human values and how to stop them ever going rogue. One under-explored solution to these alignment and control problems might be to examine how these are already addressed in the design of humans.

    Looking closely at the human blueprint, it contains a suite of capacities that are so clumsy they have generally been kept away from AI. It was assumed that robots with features like emotions and intuition, that made mistakes and looked for meaning and purpose, would not work as well as robots without this kind of code. But on considering why all these irrational properties are there, it seems that they emerge from the source code of soul. Because it is actually this ‘junk’ code that makes us human and promotes the kind of reciprocal altruism that keeps humanity alive and thriving.

    Robot Souls looks at developments in AI and reviews the emergence of ideas of consciousness and the soul. It places our ‘junk code’ in this context and argues that it is time to foreground that code, and to use it to look again at how we are programming AI.

    The book author Eve Poole received an OBE in the 2023 New Year Honours for services to education and gender equality.

    1. What is AI? 1.1. Is AI Conscious? 1.2. Robots 1.3. Inventing AI 1.4. Deep Learning 1.5. Reinforcement Learning 1.6. Bayesian AI 1.7. The Turing Test 2. How Should We Relate to AI? 2.1. How Should We Treat AI? 2.2. Regulation 2.3. Legal Status 2.4. Audit 2.5. Asimov 2.0 3. Will AI Replace Us? 3.1. Our Obsolescence Problem 3.2. The 12 Dooms 3.3. Distinctiveness 3.4 Materialism 3.5 Free Will and the Rule of Law 4. What Is Consciousness? 4.1. Mind 4.2. Consciousness 4.3. Qualia 5. How Do We Know? 5.1. How We Know Things 5.2. Thinking Styles 5.3 Types of Intelligence 6. The Soul 6.1. History of the Soul 6.2. Mapping Soul to Consciousness 7. Junk Code 7.1 Junk Code? 7.2. Emotions 7.3. Mistakes 7.4. Storytelling 7.5. Sixth Sense 7.6. Uncertainty 7.7. Free Will 7.8. Meaning 7.9. Community 8. Cultivating Soul 8.1. Cultivating Junk Code 8.2. Emotions 8.3. Mistakes 8.4. Storytelling 8.5. Sixth Sense 8.6. Uncertainty 8.7. Free Will 8.8. Meaning 9. Programming in Humanity 9.1. Why Bother? 9.2. Parenting 9.3. Gender 9.4 Coding Soul? 9.5. Emotions 9.6. Mistakes 9.7. Storytelling 9.8. Sixth Sense 9.9. Uncertainty 9.10. Free Will 9.11. Meaning 9.12. Robot Manifesto 10. Eucatastrophe 10.1. Changing Our Minds 10.2. Happily Ever After? Appendix. Glossary. References. Index.


    Eve Poole has a BA from Durham, an MBA from Edinburgh, and a PhD from Cambridge. She has an OBE for services to education and gender equality and is a Life Fellow of the RSA. Following a career at Deloitte and Ashridge Business School, she was Chairman of Gordonstoun (2015-2021), Third Church Estates Commissioner for England (2018-2021), and Interim Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2022). Her previous books include Capitalism’s Toxic Assumptions, Buying God, and Leadersmithing, which was highly commended in the 2018 Business Book Awards.

    "Many people have a sense of unease about the direction in which AI is taking us. This is more than a worry about losing jobs or online content, although these are symptoms.  This is a sense that something more fundamental is wrong—that the way programmers and designers understand ‘intelligence’ is itself awry.

    With her extraordinary ability to bridge the arts and sciences, Eve Poole not only diagnoses what is wrong, but offers an entirely novel suggestion about how to put it right. Rather than throwing up her hands in horror, Poole offers a way out of the nightmare: stop stripping out all that makes us most human—like emotions and mistakes—and put our ‘junk code’ into the programming. If it has been good enough for human survival, it is good enough for AI.

    Robot Souls is a brilliant book that wears its breadth of learning lightly and makes a complex subject seem simply. It is funny, readable, and important. It upends the fundamental presuppositions of AI and puts the enterprise on a new, more human, foundation."


    Linda WoodheadF.D.Maurice Professor King’s College London, UK



    "In Robot Souls, Eve Poole advances what is a provocative—even heretical—idea: our AIs and robots not only can have souls; we need them to have souls. In developing this groundbreaking proposal, Poole not only provides a much-needed critical examination of human exceptionalism but uses this opportunity to develop an innovative conceptualization of soul as the messy but necessary “junk code” of consciousness. More than a report concerning the current and future state-of-the-art, this remarkable and thoroughly engaging book is a soul-searching meditation on the nature of the soul, the significance it has had for our own self-image as human beings, and the fact that we now are and must learn to be responsible for the souls of those artifacts that have been created in our image."


    David J. GunkelNorthern Illinois University, USA



    "What does it mean that humans are endowed with souls? Could souls be the markers of our distinctiveness from intelligent machines, or might robots also acquire them? These questions are critical in the context of the ongoing artificial intelligence revolution, and Eve Poole's 'Robot Souls' engages them directly and skillfully at the interface between science and religion. Her 'junk code' proposal represents a bold and exciting hypothesis, making us rethink what we deem most important about being human."


    Marius Dorobantuthe Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands