Introduction: Humanity’s Future in AI-Biosynthetic World
In 2016, there were more than 650 business deals involving $5 billion in startups for AI research. With Google leading in patent applications, Microsoft, Amazon, INTEL, Facebook, and Apple became heavily involved in the domain of AI. The same companies involved in the web and cell phones are now competing for the lucrative AI market of the future with different venture capitalists backing research and development (R & D). With the advent of the web and cell phones, R & D in AI has moved rapidly since Turing’s era into the mainstream of government in a number of countries in the world, but especially US and China which are the main competitors in the field. According to some, AI is the global arms race of the future because of its potential in every sector including defense. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/02/china-artificial-intelligence/516615/; http://www.nbcnews.com/mach/features/next-global-arms-race-aims-perfect-artificial-intelligence-n685911
Because of immense institutional interest in AI, there has been a great deal written and debated about what it would all mean for society. There are tens of thousands of scholarly books and articles on the subject covering everything from scientific dimensions to social political and philosophical, some enthusiastic, others skeptical, and still others condemning AI as the new danger to humanity, even worse than motion pictures and science fiction novels depict. While most scholars are neither pessimistic nor as glowingly optimistic as Norvik about the miracle of AI awaiting the human race, there are those who cautiously point to both benefits and possible risks and skeptics cautious about the possible unforeseen consequences, some already evident with the cybergeneration of infophiles addicted to cell phones, computers, and video games.
In the early 21st century, the cybergeneration growing up in cyberspace with mechanical toys, videogames, cell phones and computers relate to machines as their reality. Accepting cyberspace as parallel to experiences with people they come into direct contact, the cybergeneration is conditioned to accept alienation from empirical reality as the norm, separating existential reality they may dread from cyber reality in which they live because they enjoy the illusion of greater control from a distance. A cybergeneration individual may have dozens or even hundreds of “cyber-friends” across the country and across the world but few if any friends in school, in the neighborhood, or at work. These cyubergeneration individuals deem detachment normal because the cyber-community has replaced the empirical one where they cannot hide behind numerous masks that cyberspace permits and promotes. The conditioning of the cybergeneration is very different than the socialization of any generation in the past that was socialized in the real community rather than in cyberspace. If this is the condition of the current cybergeneration, what would the future look like with AI robotics? http://cyberikee.tripod.com/thinking_cyber_subjectivity_1.html
By the end of this century, the reality of children growing up with robots, holograms and bioengineered humans will be far different than it is for the generation of the early 21st century in every respect from individual to group identity. The wealthier families will have androids in their homes, most likely helping to raise and educate their children, conditioning them about the existential nature of robots as an integral part of the family like the loveable dog or cat. The less affluent middle class would be able to rent-a-robot for the ephemeral experience of it. The lower classes will feel even more marginalized because AI robotics will be out of reach for them; in fact they will be lesser beings than the robots whose intelligence and functions will be another privilege for the wealthy to enjoy. As we will see below, the sense of identity and community will be largely impacted by AI in ways difficult to conceive today for all classes.
Greater egalitarianism and the promise of creating a techno-scientific paradise on earth is the bait that corporations and bourgeois politicians and their apologists have been throwing to the masses for the past three centuries and they continue to do it when it comes to the AI revolution. There are studies warning about the greater gap between rich and poor people and countries that robotics will cause. “Oxford University researchers have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades. And if even half that number is closer to the mark, workers are in for a rude awakening. In the 1800s, 80 percent of the U.S. labor force worked on farms. Today it’s 2 percent. Obviously mechanization didn’t destroy the economy. “
- The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
- The study of the ramifications, promises, and potential dangers of technologies that will enable us to overcome fundamental human limitations, and the related study of the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. http://whatistranshumanism.org/; Max More and Natasha Vita-More, The Transhumanist Reader, 2013)
Infophiles are already becoming more like the machines they use, like surreal characters in a Franz Kafka novel or a science fiction motion picture. They crave virtual reality more than empirical reality; their relationship with their cell phones or computers outlasts any other they have with human beings. If we accept the assumption that environment shapes human nature to a large degree as empiricist philosophers ever since John Locke argued, then we must accept that a techno-science environment of AI robots used by bio-engineered humans will result in robo-humans and a world where transhumanism will be the norm.
Erich Fromm’s theory of social necrophilia helps to explain human behavior increasingly emulating technical devices, not merely as a byproduct of science and technology, but of sociopolitical conditioning in a world where human values are measured by inanimate objects. There is a case to be made that identity with the machine and emulating it leads to a necroculture distorting human values where inanimate objects have greater worth than human beings – materialism in a capitalist society over humanism of an anthropocentric society is the norm. (Charles Thorpe, Necroculture, 2016)
Pedersen’s comment hardly inspires public confidence because it states that human officers will be making the decision on robo-cop conduct thus transferring human prejudices to the machine. Would the criminal justice system be any less racist than it is today in America because of robots if white racists are programming the robots? Considering that the robo-cops presence will make the officer feel invincible over citizens to a much greater degree than the real officers feel today, can the human power-hungry officer be trusted with a robo-cop by his side to keep order in a public demonstration against government policy about any number of issues? It is estimated that within the next two decades US police departments will be using robo-cops throughout major US cities. The combination of robo-cops and robo-soldiers could make society far more authoritarian than we have seen since the era of the Third Reich, prompting mass demonstrations against repression and polarizing society even more than it is in our time.
Scientific and Religious Opposition to AI
Some scientists estimate that by the end of this century AI robots will have superhuman intellectual capabilities. One key question is whether AI will make humans more intelligent or intellectually and creatively lazy because the machine will think and work for them. Some scholars believe that computer technology is actually making humans less intelligent, while others insist the computer will never be as smart as their human programmers and it is but a tool for human development. Advocates of AI argue that most likely humans will evolve along with robots, although it may take genetic modification for humans, those whose parents can afford it, to keep up with the robot. http://nautil.us/issue/28/2050/dont-worry-smart-machines-will-take-us-with-them
There is evidence to indicate that the average middle class child in the Western World is more intelligent in 2017 than a child growing up in the 1950s. At the same time, however, the average child of the early 1950s used her/his brain to solve problems, whereas today’s child resorts to the computer for everything from problem-solving and analysis to information and memory. The machine facilitates and speeds up research and communication, but it also makes the user intellectually lazy. Even worse, the computer can make the user cynical often unable to distinguish between what is useful and edifying and that which is useless or potentially destructive.
Although the cell phone and computer make it much easier to communicate and gather information, the web cannot think or make judgment for the individual about what is true and what has scientific, scholarly and ethical validity. This is where the vast “garbage” of the web enters into the picture, overloaded with all sorts of completely useless, untruthful, unscientific, and often harmful material that many people embrace as empirical fact; a reflection of a value judgment on the part of the web user. The ability to determine what is truly for the edification of humankind and what is useless or even harmful remains a human endeavor and one that the computer or AI robot cannot carry out in the absence of a program. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mr-personality/201305/is-technology-making-us-stupid-and-smarter
Many theologians and philosophers believe that AI will simply make humans more like robots depriving them of their soul; a controversial position for those who doubt there is such a thing as a “soul”. One could argue that 17th century rationalist philosophers Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz had a much more mechanical view of humans than philosophers before the Scientific Revolution when religion dominated everyone’s worldview. If the living body is an “automaton” and God the computer programmer, then why is AI so vastly different with humans playing the role of God as the Grand Programmer?
Critics, especially theologians, argue that humans are more than merely mechanical devices like a robot because they have a conscious, a soul for those who believe in its existence as either separate from or an integral part of the brain. AI technology may pose a very serious threat to religion; more so than Charles Darwin’s work on evolution that remains unacceptable even today for many yielding to religious dogma. Despite religious reservations about the new technology, houses of worship are among the first to use it to reach the faithful through computers, advertise and project their services online. If “tele-worship” is already here and now, how far behind would the houses of worship be when it comes to using AI robots in all sorts of ways, insisting they are instruments of God serving mankind’s path to salvation! Just as opportunism drives corporations to pursue research and development and government to want “robo-soldiers” and “robo-cops”, all other domains in society, including religion will adapt to the new AI technology, setting aside their dogmatic opposition. After all, what could be greater than using a robot as a model of an obedient servant to God in the name of redemption which humans ought to emulate? Isn’t blind robotic obedience what religion always expects of its faithful?
Among others, American billionaire Mark Cuban speculates that the world’s first trillionaires will be those with the ability to master all aspects of artificial intelligence and derivative industries. No doubt, such an appetizing dream has many companies investing in artificial intelligence research and development. The recognition that the new industry of the future will be operating under existing rules of capitalism is a tacit acknowledgement that AI will not solve any of the outstanding social, economic and political problems. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/09/berg.htm