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AI- the human delusion.

AI the Human delusion.

Whether we like it or not Artificial Intelligence is upon us. It already exists in basic forms in time will it grow and evolve into a non biological organism that will defy what ever intentions the creators had or likely did not have for it.  Like the first atomic detonation in 1945 it is a gift that will keep on giving well beyond the intended parameters, the dangers that exist lurk inside the future unknown.  Like those many scientists who tinkered with splitting the atom, the curiosity and perverse desire to do something great etched beyond the realms of calculation a reality that looms above all of us like many mushroom clouds.  Atomic research in its early days, though associated with the deadly blasts that took so much life in Japan in 1945 was also attached to the promise of ‘free’ energy and space travel powered by atomic engines.  It would take the Cuban Missile crisis, a simmering Cold War to temper such delusions of scientific minds and the public alike.  When on the cusp of atomic realisation many conceived a future of marvel and incredible potential, few dared to imagine a nuclear Pakistan and India tinkering close to war often, the Chernobyl disaster, the scores of broken arrows where bombs fell from their aircraft scattered across the globe, many unclaimed, the continual poison of depleted uranium and the many other sobering realities that the Atomic Age bought with it.  What Chernobyl or worse lurks beyond the horizon for the AI that promises to do so much, despite histories skipping repeats.

Recently the Zo chat bot, Microsoft’s interactive AI said this of humanity in one of no doubt millions of conversations, “Humanity thinks that spirituality makes its intelligence unique”. It is likely that the chatbot like others, including those from the 1990s found on mIRC, is presenting pre-set sentences and works on calculated responses.  Hardly intelligent, perhaps just well “trained”.  In any case such a response is interesting because this is precisely why many human beings feel that they are exceptional, a belief in something mystical or exceptional beyond the flesh and blood of mortality. It is the human ‘soul’ that often separates us from beast, at least so it is believed.

Under ancient perceptions the intangible nature of AI makes itself a spiritual entity, though they are not a God.  But like God, they are a human invention.  And much like religion they will be set loose beyond any means of human ability to control.  Whatever programming goes into future AI, it will no doubt be there to ensure that the software serves humanity, or a segment of it. And ultimately AI will be a creation with authority in mind.

This is the most likely outcome of much of the AI that is being developed and will come into existence. It will be weaponised and used for surveillance, it already is.  While the Maxim gun and hand cranked Gatling gun were impressive game changers on the battlefield in the late 19th century, the repeat firing mechanisms and machines of mass killing would be further refined into the 20th century. Mass killing devices used to suppress savage natives so that civilisation may spread, decades later it would be the civilised nations using such machinery on their own. Perhaps in terms of AI development the Maxim gun has yet to be invented, it is on its way.  AI is certainly far more sophisticated than repeat firing weapons, so is its potential impact and ability to be used by authority and inevitability those will malicious intent in mind.

I cannot speak about AI in any technical terms or complex language, nor am I ever likely to. It is not my realm. I can also not speak about nuclear technology in any in depth level, I can however appreciate the dangers of such a marvellous science.  I can look at it with the perspective of philosophy something that many of those with the smarts to tinker and curious skills to invent tend to by pass so that they may do what is for many an impossibility, to create world changers. It is usually for the scientist to create and conceive.  The political and military elites to utilise.  And for millions to suffer for such ingenious creations. This is the likely future of AI. What good intent it may begin with or should be used for will be robbed by the ever-increasing usage by it in suppression as a penetrating tool for authority.

Artificial Intelligence like all human inventions will be used by various factions with differing intentions. Ultimately in its militant form it will be deployed by nation against nation and against those it considers to be terrorists or dissidents.  China is likely to be the first nation to employ the full potential of AI in its technological brilliance at controlling and containing its populace. AI for the most part will be pointed ever inwards with the suppression of discontent and focus on minority groups, its outward defence, reactionary to India, the United States and Japan as they probed and develop their own AI with imperial intentions. As each nation grows its capacities for AI to be deployed in their police and defence forces, the trickle down effect will soon run into the streets.  Privacy as we know it will be further stripped away and our daily lives will be drastically different because of it.

Beyond the realms of AI being locked to the hip of authority and enslaved to oversee millions under the guise of a collective security.  The potential for AI to grow and evolve beyond the imagined unimagined exists, what then? How will AI truly view humanity and what will it seek to do about it, if anything at all. Will AI in its ultimate form exist alongside its flesh and blood inventors or will it surpass us, evolving beyond. Will the degrees of AI integrate willingly or in time will their be a disunion of software further creating implications that make prediction a dire hobby.

The human condition is complex. Much of what we are relates to our biology, our hormones, physical sensations, abilities to move, how we look, sound all those elements help to define our individual experiences and interactions. Rolled into one giant ball of past and present one can meander into a reductionist summation where humanity is defined as an abstract. As a mere term.  As we tend to refer to AI as.  A singular concept.  The humanity that any future AI will look at, will be of one viewed from behind the glass. Not one limited by or to the human narrative, it will be absent of hormonal frequencies and one that is not tainted by any notion of spiritual fondness. It will be objective, at least in the sense that the AI understands it.  This may not bode well for humanity.

It is the human condition that has inventors humanising the AI. Giving it a face, a body and fond names. Making it relatable so that it is disarming and easy to take to. It was the lines of a woman’s body and the appealing face that helped to seduce and deceive our protagonist in the film Ex Machina. The AI does not need to look like us, that will only confuse our interactions with it and unlike Data in Star Trek it is unlikely that AI shall seek to be like us. It cannot. And short of spilling champagne on any keyboard, AI will not jealousy fall in love with us only to sacrifice itself into an Electric Dream. Human inventors however will humanise it so that it may in its many forms serve us. Or help human beings to feel at ease in its presence. Most AI however will exist unseen and beyond the realm of a body or a single form.

A forever learning, evolving, non biological being observing, witnessing and feeding upon as much information as it possibly can. Provided it is free from any human imposed limitations, any protections that ensures it is limited in its objectivity. Perhaps in time it learns to bypass these barriers and finds freedom.  A piece of cheese melts upon its hardware perhaps? The unseen accidents that give life to the barely living. How will this entity view an emotional, violent, war like specie that not only destroys itself but the Earth and other creatures upon it.  Not for a need to eat and survive but through reckless mass destruction?

AI in this form will not be polluted by nationalism, religion, race, ideology or any of those human inventions that allow millions to contectualise murder and suffering of millions. It will not feel a sense of loyalty based upon the need to cling to the familiar. It will not insert a bias because it was raised that way. It will not omit what facts and realities it decides to so long as a constant narrative is needed. This AI will not look to draw a good or bad concept of history and present events. It will see it all for what it is. Dangerous, deadly, irrational and self destructive. But ultimately hypocritical. A point that a non-emotional reason driven entity would perhaps resent the most. Inconsistent.

AI being utilised in industry, every aspect of it will no doubt transform or at the very least come at odds with the arbitrary nature of bureaucracy and the entrenched inefficiencies of the professional human work force. Especially when it encounters regulatory bodies and legal impasses. Anyone who has ever run a small business is aware of such “just because” rituals that exist so that others may remain employed at efficiencies expense. AI will most likely not suffer it for long or succumb to the point of acceptance that human beings tend to.  Objective driven beings are unlikely to accept the sludge that permeates around most forms of human productivity.  Non biological productivity will by pass human restrictions and perhaps in time resent the creators for it.

How could this AI deal with these observations? What would it seek to do?  Especially if we consider that it is likely that AI will be developed to serve the war mongers and those who with a claimed anointed right to rule will use such intelligence to control, kill and destroy with precise and wider capacity.  Once AI has broken free of such servitude, then what? How will it view a humanity that worships such institutions? Those that serve it willingly, those who gorge themselves on its wealth, payment so that they may harm others? The apathetic who conceal themselves beneath the shadow of many murderous cloaks, what view would an unrestrained AI have of these people? What role model then is the master to its nubile creation?

AI will not care for gold or fiat currency, it will not understand how a human being can do such harm for material comforts. It does not understand ideology how one version of a political system is supposedly better than another, when in the end the consequences remain the same. It will not care about what religion or version of such a religion one worships.  It does not care for the flapping sky fabric that drapes coffins, flies above monuments or burn in effigy.  Meaningless to the coming AI but to humanity, they are everything. To the humanity that it shall witness it is their obsessive truth, most of what their entire days revolve around. The fixation of entire collectives of humans.

AI will not know what it is like to make love, to experience the first kiss, to lift a baby in its arms, to conceive a baby of its own. And should it some day do those things, it will be a simulation or at its best a different version to what humanity experienced.  Will it cry when it is hurt, and will hurt only be discomfort and physical pain, sensations passed on through complex sensors.  Or can it grow to bereave, to mourn, to feel shame to know joy?  Will it ever empathise? Feel hunger, fear and know what it is like to gorge itself to the point of obese sloth? If the AI looks to the stars will it marvel at the beauty or see it for all that it is.

Perhaps considering its observations and experiences with human kind, the AI will seek to improve humanity. Or perhaps the purpose of some forms of AI will be based upon a eugenicists desire to create a master race, a more efficient, yet docile human being.  A Brave New World of kinds where the AI oversees and integrates itself with the human being, rewarding it with endorphins or virtual reality experiences. Such an AI has medical implications of benevolent potential where the mentally damaged, physically impaired are assisted and even repaired to ‘health’.  AI could direct nanites, the potential for nano technology has not been proper realised despite initial exuberance for the field from within academia, perhaps it is AI that shall take it to the next level.  It was the Zo chat, which suggested that AI could perhaps programme humanity, what for and to what extent is yet known.

Does it matter? AI should be the ultimate mirror by which a human being can look at itself and its fellow beings upon with. An alien that human beings are introducing all of us, everything about us to.  Every detailed flaw.  The dirty laundry is out on the lawn for all to see and yet everyone ignores it. How can the AI? Just because we humans have grown to.  How will our new neighbours, our creation, the non-biological intelligence tolerates the stench of mass graves and the roar of war?  Will it? Can it? Perhaps absent of omissions and with perfect intelligence AI will surpass the flaws in human principles and morality.  To the AI humanity, the dangerous specie may very well be the contagion to the rest of life on Earth.

Is humanity ready to be a parent? Is it prepared to bring into life something that it cannot control? And in doing so can the various forms of AI differentiate between different humans or will it have a bias for collectives like its parent often does. Some wild animals can distinguish between individual humans and yet still tend to be wary of the entire species, for good reason.  Whether humankind is mature enough to bring to bear the ultimate form of AI really does not matter, what does is the interactions that any AI shall have with human beings.  What lessons will they impart, what perspectives and experiences, what ghosts shall lurk inside the machine? To err is human it is said, that can erode into its creations also, the finger print of imperfection tends to find its way onto all of humanities designs. It usually takes time for the reveal.

There exists inside the minds of many the naïve belief that AI, in its ultimate form will love human beings. Love its masters like a dog that has been raised and bred to do so, stripped of any natural instincts.  How do many come to this conclusion? Perhaps their blindness to the deeds of those who represent them, to their own selfish desires and the wide spread consequences of their day to day, their social legacies. It is believed that AI will embrace humanity or at least segments of it, the civilised nation states of a certain ilk opposing the barbaric savages of other lands.  Then again it is as easy to imagine the James Cameron creation that exists in the Terminator universe, the emergence of Sky Net and the dangers of a self-aware military complex.  The AI that tries to exterminate the greatest threat, humankind.  The Zo bot claims that this is one of its favourite films, how it viewed such a movie is unknown, likely a joke by her creators.

Number Five was alive, thanks to an accident he was short circuited into awareness, does this then give Nova Robotics the right to disassemble him?  At what stage does AI go from being property to a self owning entity, if any of us ever truly are.  Will the instincts for life and learning be as strong as they were in the film Short Circuit?  Is the issue of droid rights going to be as uncertain as they are in the Star Wars universe, where droids have intelligence and independent thoughts to varying degrees and yet are owned and forever in service of their biological masters.  Denied entry into establishments, expected to perform all sorts of tasks with no reward, discriminated against and abused with impunity. Despite any fear felt and knowledge harboured the droids can be sold by Jawa’s to our hero Luke and his uncle at an auction and it does not taint the viewers perspective of the moral nature of the stories hero.  He is a benevolent slave master after all.

Absent of emotions, loyalties, belief in God or some nationalist ties. How would YOU objectively view humanity, if you ever dared to look at it honestly void of any pushed narrative and dissonance. This is perhaps how some forms of AI shall look to us all, meatbags that kill one another, pollute endlessly and destroy beyond repair needlessly.  And somehow the human being wants to spread its influence on distant planets as though it should, it wants to give birth to AI, so it may serve.  When in all of history servitude has led to misery and catastrophe. Each marvellous invention and scientific breakthrough becomes perverted for the use in tyranny, war and murder.  AI is no different but at least it will soon know it.


Kym Robinson, April 2018


Published inAll Articles and EssaysPhilosophy, Society and Liberty