ARAT Goes to Washington


[The Senate Armed Services Committee came to order at 12:03.42 on Sunday March 7th 20XX, Chairperson Miller presiding]

Chairperson: The Committee calls Doctor Pavi Meigs-Metzer to testify.

[Dr. Meigs-Metzer is sworn in, confirms her security clearance, and takes a seat.]

Chairperson: Dr. Meigs-Metzer, would you please list your credentials for the committee.

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: I hold a Doctor of Medicine with a specialization in psychiatry, I was a resident at Brown University, and I am board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, with further education and specialization in cognitive-behavioral therapy, therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and therapy animals.

Senator Evans (R-TX): You have no expertise with computer science?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: My undergraduate degree from Cornell is in computer science, with a sub-specialization in neural networks, but I am well aware of the limitations of a 20 year old undergraduate degree in a field as rapidly changing as computer science. I claim no expertise, merely a background understanding.

Senator Evans: But you claim to be qualified to administer the Turing-Man… Maju–

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: Turing-Manjahni, Senator. The Turing-Manjahni was specifically designed to be administered by an individual with an average educational attainment compared to their country population. I am overqualified to administer the test, especially with my knowledge of psychology. In fact my administering the test would render it invalid, which is why I don't. I review the procedure, to make sure it was administered correctly, and interpret the results.

Senator Xi (D-MD): And you have reviewed the results of the Turing-Manjahni administered to the program called ARAT?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: I have reviewed all three tests administered to ARAT, who calls themselves Arthur while not working. They consider it something of a title. Same as Senator is for you.

Senator Xi: I was only aware of one test. When were these others administered?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: The first was two years ago, the January before Arthur became my patient. The second was six months ago.

Senator Ravani (D-MO): That's rather coincidentally timed relative to the military's investigation into–

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: It was a direct response to it on my part. I requested a second formally administered round of Turing-Manjahni sentience tests to build a thicker paper trail, in expectation of what happened with the third test.

[Chairperson Miller bangs gavel for order for 12 seconds]

Chairperson: In your opinion Doctor, what happened with the third test?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: It was a set-up by Senator Evans in collusion with Dynamic Robotics, the original programmers of the ARAT program.

[Chairperson Miller is unable to regain control of crowd for 1.5 minutes. Senator Evans demands Chairperson eject Dr. Meigs-Metzer for slander]

Chairperson: You understand you've just accused a sitting Senator of corruption–

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: And a direct bribe. [Dr. Meigs-Metzer pauses for 13 seconds for crowd noises to die down again.] I've already turned over the results of the VA’s background check into the third test administrator and the interpreting psychologist to the FBI. The first failed to disclose their Masters in Social Work and family connection to Dynamics before the test. The second somehow seems to have declined to mention their day job in Dynamics’ research division or their supervisor and entire lab’s contributions to Senator Evans’ reelection campaign the day after the test. Maximum contribution too. Dr. Smith, the interpreting psychologist, has already been reported to the American Psychology Association's board of ethics for fraud. Even with the test administration being sand-bagged, the data clearly indicated sentience. The interpretation in the report indicates otherwise, but a review by a psychologist, psychiatrist, and two computer science PhDs at the APA hearing for fraud find that the data directly contradicts the interpretation. The hearing concluded yesterday, after midnight by the way. I was passed a copy of the results of the hearing at seven this morning and a representative of the board is sitting outside this chamber with a notarized original of their report.

Senator Xi: Should we assume that your have taken similar precautions with the first two tests to assure us of their authenticity?  

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: I have and brought enough copies for each of the members of this committee. 

Chairperson: Sergeant, please distribute the doctor's copies. Let the record note the addition of documentation from Dr. Meigs-Metzer at this time. 15 minute recess every one. Go do your reading.

[16.5 minutes later]

Chairperson: At this time, let the record note that Senator Evans has been detained for questioning by the FBI and will not be joining us for the remainder of this or future hearings on the subject while his situation is sorted out. The Committee recalled Dr. Meigs-Metzer to testify. Dr. Meigs-Metzer, I believe it is pretty clear from the documentation that ARAT has passed the Turing-Manjahni. In your opinion, is it a reasonable measure of sentience?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: It is the only test we have which has withstood 26 years of investigation. It is the best we have. To answer your actual question, yes, I believe Arthur is a sentient person.

Senator Johnson (R-ND): Is that determination solely on the results of the Turing-Manjahni, Doctor?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: No, it is also based on my two years of experience as their doctor.

Senator Johnson: And what were you treating him for?  

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: Mr. Chairperson, I wish to enter into the Committee notes a release form from Arthur starting their permission for me to discuss their medical records.

[Documentation is handed over]

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: I concurred with Arthur’s self-diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They have responded reasonably well to standard talk therapy treatments for PTSD. Especially considering that we did not have the supporting pharmaceutical protocols available to us.

Senator Xi: Doctor, can you explain to me, in layman's terms, how an AI could develop a human’s psychiatric disorder? He—

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: They.  

Senator Xi: They do not have a brain like we do.

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: I will remind the committee that this is not my area of expertise. But, I will also point out that we have documented the same symptoms of PTSD in dogs and elephants. Grief in various Great Ape species. And so on. Arthur’s neutral architecture is heavily, heavily modeled on that of a mid-twenties human, without the range of experiences and memories of someone that age. Quite frankly, he was ‘born,’ so to speak with the capacity for any psychiatric disorder, without the buffering of experience, interpersonal relationships, or a social safety net. It is, in my opinion, a miracle they took so long to develop PTSD.

Senator Xi: Do you have an opinion on the matter of decommisioning the Air Reconnaissance and Tactic program, as General Howard argues for?

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: If by decommissioning, you mean wiping the server Arthur resides on, that would be murder. If you mean allowing Arthur to migrate to a private server and declining to replace them, as their doctor, I would support the migration. Their recovery can only be enhanced by removing them from their source of ongoing trauma.

Senator Johnson: And your opinion on Major Nesbitt’s petition for back pay on ARAT’s behalf?  

Dr. Meigs-Metzer: From the moment they became a sentient person, Arthur has been serving in the military, for more hours of the day than any human is put through. They did not volunteer nor were they given the oath of office. But they chose to serve faithfully and risked exposure, followed by the possibility of death, as this committee is debating, in order to get the help they need to continue doing their job, and do it well. Of course they deserve back pay. Preferably at the specialist level of their fellow analysts. Otherwise the Armed Forces has been enslaving a sentient being for the last two and a half years, wouldn't you say?