Assessing Machine Volition: An Ordinal Scale for Rating Artificial and Natural Systems

George L. Chadderdon
2008 Adaptive Behavior  
Volition, like intelligence, is a concept of interest and utility to both philosophers and researchers in artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, it is often poorly defined, potentially difficult to assess in biological and artificial systems, and its usage recalls the ancient, futile debate of free will vs. determinism. This paper proposes to define volition, and to suggest a functionally-defined, physically-grounded ordinal scale and a procedure by which volition might be measured: a kind of
more » ... uring test for volition, but motivated by an explicit analysis of the concept being tested and providing results which are graded, rather than Boolean, so that candidate systems may be ranked according to their degree of volitional endowment. Volition is proposed to be a functional, aggregate property of certain physical systems and is defined as the capacity for adaptive decision-making. A scale similar in scope to Daniel Dennett's Kinds of Minds scale is then proposed, as well as a set of progressive "litmus tests" for determining where a candidate system falls on the scale (see Tables 1-4) . Such a scale could be useful in illuminating our understanding of volition and in assessing progress made in engineering intelligent, autonomous artificial organisms.
doi:10.1177/1059712308090535 fatcat:lhhxgkoub5ep3d6h3ejsxodcw4