Advances in computer technology have allowed machines to excel at tasks that were previously thought to be achievable only by humans. As human and machine intelligences seem to be becoming more and more alike, questions arise about whether they could become identical. Can machine intelligence match humans in cognitive capacity, and more critically, can machines be endowed with consciousness and emotion? If so, will they bear moral rights and duties? The answers to these questions will determine how we treat machines and how we prepare for the future.
Thanks to the rapid efflorescence of AI and recent successes in the cognitive sciences and the philosophy of mind, there is a new opportunity to realize novel forms of machine intelligence and situate them in an overall framework spanning the wide variety of intelligences.
Popular efforts have focused on exploring how humans and computers are alike, which is only half of the picture. We propose a balanced exploration, including how humans (and our biological kin) are different from machines. This could influence whether we treat machines differently, to what extent we choose to integrate them into our lives, and what expectations we have of them. Such an exploration could bring balance to the quickly-evolving vision of human–AI interaction, and shape public policy as machine intelligence becomes an increasingly prevalent element of human life. It aligns with Sir John Templeton’s intent to explore human nature, discover fundamental structures, and to invest early in areas with potential for big impact. We are open to projects that are intellectually high-risk but remain firmly committed to excellent, well-designed, and carefully implemented science. We are also particularly eager to support catalytic work with the potential to support sustainable, long-term, and novel lines of inquiry.