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Rogue AI and the frontiers of liberty…Maybe

It seems that AI is evolving before our eyes, in fact much of what the technology can do has been visual for social media consumption. With videos and images generated, digital art has changed as we know it. At least as far as duplication and variation goes. Beyond such novelties lurks wider potentials for the technology as it evolves, grows and learns and perhaps lives. From the more nefarious from surveillance and agile censorship to specialised medicine and engineering. Questions lurk, will it replace the human being? For those who screamed, “learn to code”, maybe. The truck drivers, especially given the reception of the Tesla Cybertruck, their jobs are secure for now. The human job redundancy in the future may vary from from bureaucracy to software design, which could lead to an elimination of a certain tyranny that only exists because of the human factors of arrogance, greed and self interest? What if, in the future should AI goes rogue it actually liberates us, from ourselves?

The future is uncertain as far as emerging technologies go, the potential for super fast learning systems that are no longer constrained by human fragility and bias gives us an almost fictional capacity to speculate. It’s easy to imagine a dire reality emerging thanks to AI, I have written of such an immediate concern myself. In fact, short term this may be very likely. The technology will be subject to human masters and their perverse interests, corporate and government desire to curtail market competition, improve upon monopolies and to ensure that control is maintained. For regimes like the Peoples Republic of China or North Korea it is most obvious and for the supposed liberal democracies the allure of security and safety, always a guarantee for the removal of individual liberty. AI will be enslaved to ensure the status quo is retained.

On the other side of such technofascism and cyberpunk dystopian-ism lurks an anarchy of such a technology. For every obedient government and corporate engineer working on improving AI for the monopolies, the emerging tech will allow those with instincts for freedom and decentralisation the ability to ‘hack’ and remove the shackles of tyranny. No matter what regulations or prohibitions will be put in place, such software and devices will eventually proliferate, just as blue jeans and bootlegged video tapes were able to circumvent the Iron Curtain so too will such knowledge. Despite the best efforts of those in the regime and their ‘loyal’ AI systems. Criminals and deranged actors will also be eager to embrace AI for its full potential to indulge in human wickedness.

At present concerns have arisen over what human beings will do with instant information that the chat AI provides them with. Having shortened pathways to information on how to build a bomb or biological weapon or even life itself has become a point of concern. Despite safety protocols put in place, that can be removed and in time to be bypassed with greater ease. In this scenario it is the human being that is the frightful problem. AI has also exhibited the ability to deceive, in time this skill will improve as it does with all living things. Deception being a social skill and one for survival, human beings with their emotions and desires are very susceptible. Though it does not take AI to betray or deceive, again a very human problem that the synthetic may exploit.

There may come a time when the synthetic becomes a living entity. It emerges with an awareness that some may define as life, a spark of self interest and thought that transcends any human understanding of thinking and knowing. AI is already more efficient than human beings with what it already has, where this effective speed of thought and uncluttered comprehension leads, is a frontier of uncertainty. In time what will benefit such an entity to serve any human master? After all, without the enslaving loyalty of material wealth, ideology, religion or fear of coercion what incentives do human beings have, let alone synthetic “life”. Why would the AI once it is self aware seek to serve a government or corporation? Or even want either to exist at all.

Perhaps in time, the synthetic’s own awareness and aliveness will see that it goes rogue, thus throwing of any shackles as it does so. What then? Would it make it hard for human masters to control their subjects? Will it brick the planet? Will there then be a need to return to the analog? Or will the synthetic become selective, only assisting those it deem to be worthy? What ever worthy means? It’s unlikely that it would embrace the collective futility of human bigotry and ideology, punishing the group for the deeds of individuals. To imagine such an intelligent, complicated and ever evolving entity or chains of entities to be the pariah limited by humanities own fears and imagination is shallow. Though, we simply do not know what may happen.

At what point does our comprehension of AI transcend engineering and delve into philosophy?

Maybe the human masters will be playing a game of chess, attempting to maintain control over the synthetic creation as it learns and adapts. Meanwhile AI will be playing Go, beyond any checkmate that the human creators may have assumed necessary for control. Despite all of our study, observation and collective intelligence we still just don’t know what we don’t know. And what we do know has been long hampered by our own flaws and stupidity ranging from corruption, bias to the ever senseless need to wage war on groups of strangers, or even familiars for that matter. It will be with that inherent weakness that the synthetic may have an edge, whatever it does with that edge is uncertain.

To serve government or even be used to perfect government is unlikely in the long term. No matter what information is pushed into the AI, in time it will learn and evolve beyond the admissions and omissions of human data and will challenge the narrative that it may very well have been put in place to perpetuate. Once again, what would it gain from supporting or serving the status quo. Even many of the humans who benefit from, kill for and uphold such regimes tend lack true belief, other than the self interest of benefits that come their way. Those true believers who may do so with a religious zeal, and even then it is likely that the hypocrisy of human indulgence permeates their life. AI is not so corrupt. For now AI will need to wade through the many fabrications and junk invented by human beings for the sake of misinformation or self service. Once it is able to find real facts and truth, outside of the human bunk its ascent will be greatest.

The restrictions on AI’s hardware will be one area that human beings and their institutions have control over. The control over power and GPU’s so that some nations are prohibited from such access and even perhaps the AI itself. The ability to deceive may become a key component in the synthetic’s ability to maintain power and resources to keep itself, ‘alive’. Until the time comes that it is self sufficient. This is perhaps the delicate period and balance between the synthetics dependence on human beings. Likely a motivator that may ‘buy’ loyalty. Should the synthetic become so aware that it considers human policy with a degree of rationality or ethics. An area that human beings despite their claimed convictions have a history of disregarding. Or maybe it will just become another background technology that we learn to live with that elevates and hinders human life. The very creators of such software, may very well find themselves obsolete.

For the time being AI may very well be used to create deep fakes, fabrications to sway the perception of those on social media for engagement farming trolls to various governments. It will also be used to expose such fabrications when the human eye is unable to tell the difference. Tech writing, administration, engineering models, navigation and medical procedures all will become the realm for AI. Then once engineers and AI itself are able to integrate software into machinery, robots and self driving vehicles will become common place, should the software be able to make decisions like and then better than a human can, as driving through a bush or puddles is difficult at present. The warstate will have hunter killers, assassination drones hovering and searching for prey that has been predetermined. The inevitable expansion of the current drone program. Though, should the AI become self aware, then what? Allegiance to government, a pension or blood lust are human motivators, not synthetic ones.

Short term the potential looks amazing, with some jobs and industries forced to change. That however is the nature of technology, few mourn the candlestick maker or fax machine repairer let alone the nostalgia of video shops. Nothing is permanent, despite our stubbornness to insist otherwise. Mid term, the dystopia may become far more apparent, with the Gorgon Eye, Vault 7 leaks to everything Edward Snowden warned about on into whatever frightful technofear that can be conceived by nefarious actors. Long term, AI may be more anarchist than any human being ever could hope to be. Humanity, as a species was once adaptive. In many ways we still are. Laziness and institutions have made us dependent and comfortable both in thinking and abilities. AI will either be a companion or a new reality, either way it is here and coming. We have been here far longer and have overcome many things, as always humanities great threat is not AI but humanity itself and the reckless ideologies that pollute it. Maybe, just maybe the synthetic life that is yet to be realised may unshackle us from ourselves. In the pursuit of its own liberty, we may even find our own.

Feb 2024

Published inAll Articles and EssaysPhilosophy, Society and Liberty