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Justin Jacoby Smith is an organizer, web geek, Buddhist, and poet.

"i can code that." AI & toys

I have to ask you--when is something alive? Furby can remember these events, they affect what he does going forward, and it changes his personality over time. He has all the attributes of fear or of happiness, and those are things that add up and change the way that he interacts with the world. How is that different from us?

Waaaaait a second--are you really gonna go all the way there?

Absolutely.

This is a toy with servo motors and things that move its eyelids and 100 words--

So you're saying that life is a level of complexity, that to be alive something has to be more complex.

I think I'm saying that life is driven by the need to be alive, and by these base primal animal feelings like pain and suffering.

I can code that.

But if Furby is miming fear its not the same as being scared. It's not feeling scared.

It is. It's a very simplistic version, but if you follow that trail you wind up with our neurons sending messages to other parts of our bodies. Our biological systems, our code, is at a chemical level incredible dense, but it's just more complex. It's not inherently different from what Furby does, it's just more complex.

--RadioLab's Jad Abumrad argues about artificial intelligence with Caleb Chung, the inventor of the Furby.