THE I IN AI

‘I visualise a time when we will be to robots what dogs are to humans, and I’m rooting for the machines’.

Claude Shannon

We’re live the good life, surrounded by gadgets that do everything.

They check our pulse, our sleeping habits, our calorie intake, our brainpower, our social savvy; they control our heat and our driving habits, our surgeon’s scalpel, and our kids’ reading habits.

They remind us what we need, and they advise us on how to get it. Soon, they just might start commanding us what to do. This, of course, would be for our own good. Because that deep mind is smarter than we are. It’s proven. It defeats us at Go.

One wonders – to what extent would we agree to carry out the orders of our digital helpers? And, are they still our helpers, or have they quietly, imperceptibly become something else?

Then wonders again – just who hides behind our electronic help? Because the gadgets alone are not – yet! – smart enough to self-organize.

And ultimately – will we be able to remain the humans we were?

Our first mistake is that we imagine ourselves to be resilient.

Manipulation, control, those things apply to others (the eternal abstract others), because, unlike them, we keep things under control. When, in pointed discussions with friends, we give examples of who is smart and who isn’t, we always identify with the first and never with the latter. Even though we are more likely to fall into that last role. Our innate desire to always identify with the good and with the winners works against us. For example, when we talk about someone like Noah, the one of the Ark, we tend to identify with him, not with those who perished. We survive, while the rest of civilization quietly drowns and disappears.

Our second mistake is that we agree to memory hole.

When it comes to the neoliberal doctrines that have been forced upon us, we think they are so absurd that they can’t possibly work or affect us directly. We, of course, are smart and most certainly impervious to manipulation. But you’ll be surprised how our descendants, maybe three generations down the road, left without memory and with an altered history, will believe the nonsense! And we’ll be powerless to change that. Shunned elders, grandmothers and grandfathers, who only hinder the system, and whom the next generations will avoid because it finds us annoying. They won’t even comprehend what we speak of.

Our third mistake is that we rely on some imaginary social order, some system.

Dears! Neither capital will save you (you don’t have any; only big capital remains, which is way out of your reach anyway; what is left is called control through money), nor market mechanisms (they are all captive; the market is controlled by cartels, monopolies, Wall Street advisors, and corrupt government bureaucrats), nor democracy (a word long deprived of meaning). Don’t count on any of them.

Our only defense is not to believe: not to believe that we are resilient, not to believe the official version of this world, to doubt, to double-check, to dig for the truth. When we look ahead, we must always look behind us at what was before, and why. And finally – we must remember.

As a start, that’s enough.

At this stage, our electronic devices might be innocent, but those controlling them …

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