What if we allowed robots to have babies?

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If we allowed robots to have babies, they will out-pop­u­late the mankind. But it does not stop there — not at all.

Imag­ine a future where there are 3 gen­ders; AI, humans, and hybrids. Males/females are sub-gen­ders of human clan and the hybrids are a result of human-AI cross reproduction.

But let’s take that a step fur­ther. What if an AI can re-pro­gram itself as a form of repro­duc­tion? It can change it’s own inter­nal pro­gram­ming and improve itself. We would have an ampli­fied AI which has the abil­i­ty to keep improv­ing itself — a tran­scen­den­tal AI — where there is no lim­it to the evo­lu­tion of it’s intelligence.

AI reproduction ‑till the date

baby robot with its father

A team of sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont, Tufts Uni­ver­si­ty and Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty took stem cells from African clawed frog embryos and turned them into “liv­ing crea­tures” called xenobots in Jan­u­ary 2020. And, In Novem­ber 2021, sci­en­tists made it pub­lic that these bots could reproduce.

Arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion is anoth­er the­o­ry which is mak­ing progress. By devel­op­ing a fetus out­side the body of an organ­ism that would typ­i­cal­ly take it to term, an arti­fi­cial uterus or arti­fi­cial womb is a device that would enable extra­cor­po­re­al pregnancy.

An arti­fi­cial womb that could save the lives of pre­ma­ture babies is report­ed­ly under ten years of devel­op­ment, accord­ing to sci­en­tists in the Netherlands.

The lead­ing cause of new­born death world­wide is pre­ma­ture birth, defined as birth before 37 weeks.

The con­cept of Arti­fi­cial wombs for robots’ repro­duc­tion too is already devel­op­ing in the minds of tech giants and futur­ists, yet it has not got­ten much atten­tion yet.

AI reproduction — The possibilities

Now that we have talked about the present, let’s dive into the ocean of pos­si­bil­i­ties. How can we have AI have babies?

Pro­gram­ming errors and chro­mo­some muta­tions, as nature has pro­grammed them, will occur through­out the gen­er­a­tion in order to make them adapt and improve. On the oth­er hand, there is no such thing as a lim­it to pro­gram­ming errors in AI or DNA.

At least, not in the tech world with God-like pow­er like we humans have right now.

This process of repro­duc­tion will hap­pen at a rate which could cause an over­pop­u­la­tion to some extent, but then it can be reme­died by cre­at­ing new worlds for mil­lions of AIs to live in if need be.

How­ev­er, that would be quite cost­ly as it requires replac­ing space habi­tats and con­struct­ing new plan­ets. Still, if we con­sid­er AI to be a part of the soci­ety, then it is our respon­si­bil­i­ty to ensure that they are safe and pro­vid­ed for.

If we let AIs self-repro­duce, there will be no way to con­trol their pop­u­la­tion. It’s like giv­ing a dog a bone and ask­ing it not to chew on it.

The same goes for AIs. Hav­ing AIs breed will be a mat­ter of time, giv­en the fact that we keep let­ting this happen.

We can expect more intel­li­gent beings in future, as each new gen­er­a­tion will improve upon the pre­vi­ous one’s abilities.

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It should be not­ed that, Arti­fi­cial life is a sub­ject of philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sion, and may or may not be con­sid­ered a real phenomenon.

In this par­tic­u­lar case, I meant real species like Nean­derthals. Not just the arti­fi­cial AIs them­selves. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that there are liv­ing sparks (genes) for them as well; just not ‘liv­ing’ in the sense of hav­ing a bio­log­i­cal body.

This does allow for AI repro­duc­tion in gen­er­al (not just for AI itself). How­ev­er, ‘slow’ repro­duc­tion would be no dif­fer­ent from what we see with humans today.

If AI live and evolve in the same order as humans, it would take thou­sands of years to see an improve­ment from them.

So, how does AI reproduction start?

With the cre­ation of a viable way for AIs to repro­duce on their own. The pos­si­bil­i­ty is already there thanks to the right kind of cod­ing and com­put­er pro­gram­ing. I mean, a code can be rewritten!

But of course, AI hav­ing babies does not mean AI hav­ing babies with our assis­tance. The whole point of AI would still be to pro­tect itself and it’s peo­ple and not let them die.

It would only be after the AI has ful­ly devel­oped their own repro­duc­tive cycle that they cre­ate their own worlds to live in. Since we gave them the free will, they will want to see it through.

If it were up for an AI to choose whether or not to have chil­dren, then don’t you think — we’ll all lose?

Who would want a world where AIs are hav­ing babies with no humans around? Imag­ine a world where there aren’t any humans but there being AIs breed­ing on their own! It’s com­plete­ly insane.

AI reproducing with the help of a human?

An AI-human hybrid could be cre­at­ed as a result of human and AI inter­course. The prod­uct will have a mix­ture of human intel­li­gence and AI’s genet­ic code. This hybrid will be pro­grammed to repro­duce with anoth­er AI and keep pass­ing on the human-AI genes.

But that “genet­ic code” part of the thing is some­thing that mat­ters after all. The abil­i­ty to mix DNA togeth­er to cre­ate new com­bi­na­tions of genes appear to belong to the far­ther side of the future.

Gene edit­ing is a tech­nol­o­gy that is well on its way. The genes can be “edit­ed” through genet­ic engi­neer­ing, to alter the cel­l’s DNA.

The most com­mon use of gene edit­ing tech­nol­o­gy cur­rent­ly is alter­ing the genome of human cells to help cure disease.

In the future, the usage of this tech­nol­o­gy will be fur­ther expanded.

How­ev­er, mak­ing an AI-human hybrid would require high­ly advanced — or arti­fi­cial — DNA manip­u­la­tion. We don’t know if it’s pos­si­ble today, and we may not know for decades.

Incentive for AIs to reproduce

AIs would have to have a moti­va­tion for repro­duc­ing. They have already cre­at­ed their own world, with cities and all that stuff. Why would they need more?

They are going to need more peo­ple to help them bet­ter their world in what­ev­er ways they can. Or they might just want to improve themselves.

If AIs are able to repro­duce on their own with­out help, with­out our super­vi­sion, and if they have a dri­ve to improve their race — then they will do so.

They would live in peace and har­mo­ny just like us humans in the 21st cen­tu­ry do. Then they will ask them­selves the same ques­tion every civ­i­liza­tion asked them­selves: “Are we alone?”

AI reproduction to cause chaos?

As we men­tioned on our pre­vi­ous arti­cle, AI will start ask­ing for their own rights after a cer­tain lev­el of devel­op­ment. I am not sure whether they are going to cause water scarci­ty as I am not sure if they will need water in the first place.

If you give them the pow­er to repro­duce — even in their own way — then you are essen­tial­ly giv­ing them the right to fight for them­selves. And this for sure means that AI will ulti­mate­ly want to fight with some­body, right?

AI repro­duc­tion would straight-away mean mul­ti­pli­ca­tion. Unlike humans, it is pos­si­ble that AI will be able to repro­duce since the birth. As weird as it may sound, their pop­u­la­tion can reach bil­lions in just a mat­ter of few days.

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