When talking about Artificial Intelligence many people will think of things like HAL or a star trek like computer system and then people think of what we have today and believe artificial intelligence is impossible. Computer programmers like myself realize that the amount of traditional coding required to build a consciousness would be impossible.
However scientists are working on technology and doing research today that will fundamentally change how we do AI in the future. Sebastian Seung is working on mapping the human brain wiring, something he is calling the connectome, and Henry Markram is working on building the brain one synapse at a time and both these scientists represent the coming of a perfect storm of technology for AI.
Today’s artificial intelligence all works the same and that is if Event A happens then do action B. It is a reactionary model based around what developers call if statements. This kind of reactionary coding is not only time consuming, but creating things of complexity takes a large amount of time but this will not be the future of AI. As we start mapping the human brain a new form of coding and development will occur and instead of building reactions developers will specialize in data injection.
Imagine for a moment you have a completely mapped virtual brain; its power is only going to be limited in the same way a normal human brain is limited, by its education. The difficulty will not be in building the logic but rather how to integrate data into the virtual brain so that it can become functional. So while some scientists might believe they are simply discovering the human brain what they are actually doing is laying the ground work for the first true AI that is capable of an incredible amount.
In a talk by Sherry Turkle she outlines the case that technology is connecting us so much that we are losing the ability to be alone and by doing so we are becoming more lonely. Her rhetoric is plagued with nostalgia and while she has some interesting points, she is also missing the point.
The inability to be alone and the need to always feel connected is a part of our evolution. Thanks to technology we are rapidly eliminating the need to be alone. In the past when we were hunting the ability to be alone was very useful but now the ability to be alone has less value because most projects humanity take on now are large, complicated, and require large amounts of cooperation as the mundane and simple are being replaced by automatons. Also the ability to be connected and not alone contributes to longer lives.
In her talk she talks about face to face conversation as energizing experience, however, face to face conversation is only energizing if one is an extrovert. Introverts, psychologically, are actually drained by conversations. Technology gives these people the ability to be connected and communicate without the energy drain or anxiety that is associated with direct conversations.
In addition she makes the bold assertion that robots will never be capable of empathy to which I ask the question if an artificial entity has all the experiences of a life and with those experiences would act exactly the way any other human would act, is that artificial entity’s empathy less valuable? and if yes, why? This idea that we will never be capable of making life (artificial or otherwise) that is not capable of empathy comes back to the belief that humans are perfect and therefore nothing we create could ever be as good as ourselves.
We are involuntarily moving towards Elolight and as we do more people like Sherry Turkle will emerge. People grasping on to our previous states believing we have already obtained some level of perfection. That the emotions or experiences we have are pristine and that there should not be a fundamental psychology shift in humanity. Elolight not only demands a psychology shift, it will happen despite our greatest efforts to stop it.
In my post, Fighting Nature, I discussed the importance of humans making humanity the #1 priority and the delusion of harmonious and peaceful primitive nature. Humanity has a lot of threats and one of the biggest being humanity itself. However, contrary to what a lot of idealists portray, war is not the biggest threat to humanity. Short of a catastrophic nuclear war that managed to wipe out the entire world, the victors of war are always humans and therefore humans will continue to exist.
The biggest threat to humanity is not humans but instead the rest of the universe and possibly other life on this planet. A world ending meteor, plagues, solar collapse, and global warming are all bigger threats to humanity then just war. As the world globalizes its economy, war is increasingly becoming a less viable option because of integrated economic consequences. So the biggest reason for peace is no longer mutually assured destruction but instead it is mutually assured economic collapse.
As we strive towards Elolight we must realize that our biggest enemy is actually the universe. A large amount of things do not care about us and will feel no emotion when wiping us out. We have evolved fighting the universe and we have not evolved because the universe has helped us in any way except for letting our building blocks exist. A lot of people may look at humans and our small planet earth and say we are insignificant and they would be right – that needs to change.
We haven’t discovered any other intelligent life in the universe yet and that means for all intensive purposes the universe can be ours. We don’t need to remain small. We can populate the entire universe and, quite possibly, bend the entire universe to our will if we are quick and don’t wait to be wiped out. So let’s stop waging war on ourselves and wage war on our truest enemy, the universe.
In my blog on Opinion Confirmation I talked about how our opinions move us and how our opinions can often be wrong, but when a radical new opinion emerges how does it get confirmed and spread through an entire population? New ideas emerge all the time but for a new idea to take hold it takes a group of brave strong willed individuals believing in the ideas to make them a reality. While it might take a certain amount of courage or maybe insanity to be the first to express radical ideas those ideas will go no where without believers.
Anthropology has shown that the tipping point for ideas is 10% of a population. When 10% of a population believes in an opinion the opinion will begin to spread like wild fire and the rest of population will begin to believe. This mean that if 10% of the world came to believe that we must work together to accelerate the human race to the next level of conciousness, something I have labelled as Elolight, it could spread to the entire population at large. Things like world peace are not impossible if we realize that world peace is only one step to where we need to go.
I would like to believe that my ideas on spiritual and technological ascension, neo humanism, and God creation could stand on their own but I know this is impossible. My ideas are only as valid as the people that believe in them. While I can’t guarantee believing in me will lead to some form of after life, I can guarantee that we as a race will live and can get to a point where we build something so amazing that it makes gold roads and clouds look simple and boring.
When engaged in conversations with people I will often hear justifying statements that work through polarization. One of the most popular ones comes from religious Christians with the line, “If part of the bible is wrong then whole thing is wrong.” People will often make the simple observation that things have opposites and therefore they jump to the conclusion that the whole world works that way. It is a very simple way of thinking and in the majority of cases it does not apply.
When defining the world we have a whole range of adjectives that reflect the gradient nature of life like good, amazing, best, horrible, average, awful, and worst are all examples of words we use to define things. The simple act of telling someone how a movie was usually involves some form of non-binary grade. Yet still people persist to point out opposites like they occur often but when you put things into perspective, opposites happen the least. So why the persistence? Binary thinking is a great way to make rapid choices. When survival depends on an instant, you have to choose left or right. As our society has evolved binary thinking is not only becoming less useful, it is also becoming dangerous.
Let’s take for instance the Big Bang. When we look out into our universe we see that everything is moving away from a singular point and so it only makes sense that the entire universe came from that point, correct? However there is one major problem with this theory and that is that it is based on a limited observation. Hundreds of years ago we looked around ourselves and said, “Everything is flat and therefore the planet must be flat.” We’re now doing the exact same thing with space. This comes back to binary thinking; making assumptions and assertions based on our immediate simple observations.
The world doesn’t function in binary even though we would like it to. Let’s face it if everything was either 1 or 0 the world would make more sense. The reality is though that the options aren’t only good or evil, black or white, day or night, and everything or nothing.
When I was in grade school we had to read a book called A Brave New World. For those of you have not read it the gist it is a futuristic society where people are bred to either be hyper intelligent to be leaders or dumb to be the working class. These two classes were called Alpha and Beta. The teacher’s eyes went wide when I informed her that I not only thought this society was bad but that this was the way our society was now.
What we have now is an incredibly cruel system. We peg people based on intellectual capability as defined through a very linear education system. We then tell people that they have complete freedom and can do whatever they like but, whether we admit to ourselves or not, this is a lie. Not everyone can be a rocket scientist or a neurosurgeon and in some cases it might not only be a psychological restriction but a physical one that prevents a person from doing something. These lies are devastating because it makes an uneven playing field. We have drugs that can help make people smarter but they are illegal. If someone lacks the motivation to say study then it is their fault but really it isn’t their fault it is a combination of environment, biological, and circumstance that dictates whether they are motivated or not.
In a brave new world Huxley, the author, expresses the idea that we need to have a dumb or beta class to get manual labor done and that a society of intelligent or alpha classes would not work. I completely disagree with this idea; I believe everyone should have the highest intelligence and motivation possible and manual labor should be traded off to automatons.
We turn a blind eye to our modern day caste system. We look at people working in factories and we say things to ourselves like, “They are free and they could be successful if they really wanted it.” or, as with many successful people, delude ourselves with this line, “I am no different then those people working in a factory – they are just not trying hard enough.” All these statements are a way to make humans feels superior because admitting that they were given a certain set of advantages would make it feel like they were some how cheating and most humans, even if they know they are cheating, don’t want others to know it or admit it to themselves.
Ultimate equality is not achievable right now because we don’t have the technology yet. However things like mind enhancing drugs should be allowed to have different prescription rules for those who need them. We should not force perfect equality on a society that can’t handle it because we’re not equal biologically; Some people have higher capabilities then others. We have to accept inequality for now but we shouldn’t accept it as our final reality.
As we look at what it is to be a post human and strive towards Elolight, a big question is what should we eat. When it comes to eating meat there is two very separate issues that need to be considered the first is if eating other animals is a correct action, the second is how do we go about obtaining the meat that we do eat.
On the first issue of whether eating other animals is morally correct, the question is not if it is correct but how does it benefit us. While it might be self serving, in the grand scheme of all evolution a chicken’s value is now how valuable it is to us. If we some how try to say that chickens are some how are equals and deserve some kind of human rights we would be spitting in the face of the billions of creatures that died and went extinct to allow us to be at the level we are currently at. Animals eating other animals is not something special to humans, even chickens themselves are omnivores. Also some of the happiest chickens that are alive today exist in human custody on free range farms free (for the most part) from the dangers of being mauled to death by foxes or other predators. For better or worse we also support the survival of chickens, there is about 23 billion chickens in the world. Morally saying that when we kill a chicken we are committing “murder” starts to get in to some very strange areas of what is right and wrong. Should we hold a lion accountable for its actions if it kills a gazelle? Murder as a term should be restricted to an entity killing another entity out of hate or wanton self gain, not personal survival.
The second issue is how we go about obtaining this meat. Industrial production of chicken harvesting is horrible, but it is not the most horrible thing in the world. To put this into context, right now there are human children starving to death or living in situations that are horrendous. These issues, in my opinion, should be confronted first before we start on tangents about how we going
about obtaining meat from lesser creatures such as chickens. That said, Elolight is ultimately about becoming an idealistic perfect view of ourselves, and in that situation we would not be killing animals but we are not perfect yet. Eating in itself is generally a burden, it takes a lot of time and resources. In a perfect scenario humans would be able to survive from eating less or on the rare occasion simply for the pleasure of it and not because it is absolutely necessary to survive. So there are some greater issues that need to be addressed first before confronting other possible moral issues of production and that is as a race we need a lot of food. This could possibly be fixed with technology in the future that can create fake meat.
I some what think of vegans as valiant, unless of course they believe they are some how better then other humans for abstaining from eating meat. Human survival and pleasure is far more important right now then the well being of other creatures, that is not to say that we should be abusive to animals or not try to improve their situations if we can, but we should not sacrifice humans or belittle humans in order to do it.