I think you will spend 241 seconds reading this post
I was thinking about the recent news of renowned scientists and experts warning us against Artificial Intelligence that could surpass us. Unfortunately, I think this happened already without us knowing it, and, what most, it has made us its slaves (or we’ve inadvertently submitted ourselves to it).
Before mass communication, people used to live more or less at the place they were born, and often die there. Communication was limited and costly, as was innovation and progress. People used to live with whatever they had access to. Whether this was better than now is debatable but it surely was difficult at times despite being “connected with nature” (something people seem to be looking after nowadays).
But progress made its way nonetheless, and, to make a long story short, we ended up with an ubiquituous Internet, mobiles phones and tablets in our pockets. As a result, ideas flow seamlessly and innovation thrives because we have more than ever access to novelty, others’ ideas and knowledge at the flick of a thumb.
We often hear that “the world’s becoming more complex” (as in more interconnected), when it is us who are making it that way. The more we access Internet and medias, the more we’re growing that very complexity. As a result, more innovation is happening with developers creating (social) applications or entrepreneurs creating new companies, building new things, etc.
So we might fear the approaching Artificial Intelligences, but indeed, that hyperconnectivity already made us its slaves: we’re addicted to the services it provides and we’re heavily influenced by what we have access to. Sometimes we even avoid thinking altogether and prefer to scout the net for answers or prefer looking for someone who will be able to do the thinking at our place. As a result, we’re just slaves of the Frankenstein creature or Golem creature we created. And guess what, our minds are the very powerforce that is driving the beast!
Social medias are soliciting us to contribute to others’ ideas, when it’s not just our money for crowdfunding campaigns, all of which perfectly orchestrated by finely designed storytelling.
Internet influences some people, who have ideas, who turn back to internet to improve and develop them, taping into the powerforce of other internet-connected users.
Our brains are already partly uploaded to Internet in as much as Internet is already partly wedged into our brains. We’ve built an Internet that can tap directly into our minds and suck our mindpower for others to use or us to use that of others.
What’s left of self-determination? Have we lost control of our own fate?
The problem I see is that the variety of things we are exposed to today already excess our natural capability to manage it (it’s indeed limited by the bandwidth provided by our senses and linear languages and cognitive capacity). Ross Ashby taught us (though I really doubt his teachings really are that widely known) that “only variety can control variety” or, stated otherwise: you need to raise your own variety to match that of whatever you want to understand and control for you risk unintended consequences… or the system controlling you in the end.
If we want to better manage that incoming variety, we need to extend our native capacities by tapping, too, into a new form of intelligence which arises from better interacting with others through collaboration and collective intelligence. We can do that off-grid (and it’s thankfully still what works best as of today) or we can do that by using Internet itself as more and more applications are developed to help at it, like, for instance, Slack or Loomio.
So, we too, can use the power of Internet to extend our cognitive capacities. But, by doing so, we’re also giving more power to the beast that’s already controlling us.
So, Internet: friend or foe?
In the end: what about artificial intelligence? We already are partly controlled by other people’s intelligence (in as much as we control theirs through our own usage of social internet tools). But tomorrow, could we also become the slave of artificial minds? We’re already the toys of marketing and big data/deep learning algorithms.
Although we can still today compete with Internet since its mind power is fueled by humans (networking allows us to increase our own mind power as well), what about tomorrow? I doubt we will be able to compete with artificial intelligence banding together through high speed networking exchange of data.
Our senses are already at the mercy of algorithms. What will happen when there will be coalitions of artificial brains?
And I havent’ even talked of artificial consciousness…
Edit: incidentally, this post will be number 1666 of this blog. Oh dear… (bis)
Also published on Medium.