Here is a simple one question survey that I’d like to get a hundred or so folks to answer. It is a surprisingly interesting question, and I have a bet with Bryan Caplan on it, but I won’t say more now, so as not to bias your answer.
note that they're ordered by number of votes?
I would have chosen Sentients, as I've always thought it to mean "self-aware and having cognitive abilities."
There is already a word for this: sophonthttps://en.wiktionary.org/w...
I voted for "intelligences". I've seen it used before and thought it was very effective. I could also see "turings" as a type of future slang term, along the lines we use "folks" today.
This is great timing, I just finished "The Life Cycle of Software Objects" and have been thinking a lot about AI in fiction.
Now that the results are up, my top 4 were, in decreasing order, Sapients, Intelligences, Sentients, and Intelligent Agents.
I wanted ones that are understandable at a glance, are not over-general or over-specific, and do not collide with well-defined terms in other contexts.
Entities and beings are too general (they can apply to groups and lower life forms), Turings is too obscure, Persons and People would be ambiguous in this context, Souls has too much of a religious connotation, Creatures is already used for animals, Players and Actors have strong connotations toward other meanings (though Acters would work), and Folks is too informal (among other problems).
Even within the ones I prefer, Intelligences and Intelligent Agents are accurate but a mouthful. Sentients is good, but I prefer Sapients since the former is etymologically closer to "can sense things" than "is intelligent".
Robin, because its easy, and you'll learn something, I suggest trying this again using: http://www.allourideas.org/ for the survey. The two key ideas are as follows: 1. People can write in their own responses and 2. People do pair-wise comparisons which makes voting a game. The theory is written up by an innovative sociologist here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1202.0500
You will note that the intelligent agent and agent votes together dwarf the others. Intelligent agent flows better than you think (people think shorter is always better, but that isn't the case) and you don't need to use the adjective all the time.
True, but "intelligent agent" flows better.
The problem with sentient is that it can also refer to your dog, or really any animal with a significant amount of consciousness. I voted for intelligent agent.
Gregory Benford's *Galactic Center* series.
The cognitive scientist Zenon Pylyshyn coined the term informavore to include both groups, several decades ago.
If a program like Siri can tell canned jokes, is it folk even if it has no social emotions? I do think we should have a term for all systems who can feel emotions. Some of them are not very self-aware or intelligent, which complicates the whole thing.
I voted for Intelligences, Intelligent Agents, Entities, and Turings. Turings is great because it describes what they *do* rather than attempting to define their essence. It is a bit of a harsh neologism at first blush, but hey, popular books on behavioral psychology (Nudge, Thinking Fast and Slow) talk about "econs" so why not? Intelligences is similarly good, but somewhat more stiff.
Sentients is not good. It indicates "feeling" beings and is thus question-begging. Might "machine intelligences" have a sense of internal feeling? Maybe, maybe not. The label is a distraction. Souls is even more of a distraction than "sentients".
Agents is unhelpful because it refers to people in a certain capacity. Humans are "agents" with respect to action, "sentients" with respect to feeling. When we refer to humans we aren't always referring to them in their capacity as agents. Likewise with machines.
The term "folk" could be useful in the future. It could be used to promote unity without infringing on human-conservative notions of personhood. I would describe folk as anyone who participates in folk culture. It wouldn't be an appropriate term to describe all robot intelligences.
One of the things I like about the term "folk" is that it fits nicely with popular narratives of good vs bad sentients. E.T. is alien folk, because he participates in folk culture through telling jokes and enjoying folk consumables. The aliens in War of the Worlds are non-folk. Dr Who is folk, the Daleks are non-folk. The T-800 is probably non-folk in the first Terminator movie, but is folk in Terminator 2. Vampires are bad folk but are often relatable because of their participation in human culture.
I think the term sentients will be used because it minimises the similarity between humans and robots.
I can't exclude hindsight bias, but I think I would have gone along with Caplan. Don't we know these little things have large consequences?
My initial choice was "Intelligent Agents." But when I reflected, I decided that's redundant.