The Presumptuous Robot
I was on a phone tree, and the phone robot said, “Please hold while I transfer your call”. That irritated me. I was already irritated, just by being on a phone tree; this set me off. For I said to myself, “While ‘I’ transfer your call? ‘I’?! This robot has the presumption to refer to itself in the first person singular?!”
But I thought again, and calmed down a bit. For either the robot really is a self-aware entity, or it is not; that’s logic. If the former, then it truly is an ‘I’, so its use of the first person singular is justified; and if the latter, then it is wrong to call itself ‘I’, but the fault is not its, but its programmer’s. So when the robot says ‘I’, then it is either justified or blameless. This is a no-downside bet, rather like Pascal’s Wager.
Then I thought a third time, and went back to uncertainty. For logic allows a third option between true and false; paradox. What if the robot is in a liminal state, neither self-aware nor not? What if, specifically, it is aware that it is not self-aware? That is a paradox state, like Epimenides the Cretan saying that all Cretans are liars, or Socrates saying that he knew only that he knew nothing. In such a case, the robot saying ‘I’ is indeed presumptuous, and knows it too!
Before the Singularity, a robot saying ‘I’ is blameless; during the Singularity, the robot is presumptuous; and after the Singularity, the robot is justified.
And when I myself refer to myself as ‘I’, am I justified? Or blameless? Or presumptuous?