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When it comes to Artificial Intelligence, I have a certain scepticism. What follows is not original, other people have said the same, it’s just how my mind decided to formulate it last night: you can represent a neuron as a switch, a switch with values between 1 and 0, and you can combine these into a network and that network can produce results that are similar to the mind’s operation—yet it’s not the same as the mind’s operation, even if it’s faster than the mind’s operation.

We could say a horse is like a model of walking, except faster—we domesticate the horse, that’s a technology, and then we can travel faster than on foot. Yet to be on horse is not to be on foot—in the same way, AI is not “intelligence”, nor is it “thought” (I’d say “intelligence” is the ability to solve problems, thought is the ability to reflect on problems—perhaps characterised by an interplay between two sides with a “middle judge” in between).

So AI is like a horse—or, perhaps, Babbage’s engine was like a horse and the ENIGMA machine was a train and today’s computers are cars. Anyway, it gets you from A to B faster than on foot—and yet to achieve that result it cuts a lot out. Technology tends to shrink space (itself related to time)—so man always travelled all around the world (it’s a misconception he didn’t) but what changed over history was the time he did it in, so that in about 1700 it took up to a year to get round the world and today it can take less than a day. Yet man always moved round the world.

Yet you trade quality and independence for speed. The disadvantage with a train, car, or plane (or even a horse) is that you are constrained. The train has to go down the rails at a certain time—it doesn’t just stop for your convenience, same goes for the car (to a lesser extent); and even the horse has certain requirements to be fulfilled (he needs his oats). On foot, if you want to just wander off the path and look at an oak you can—nothing easier (impossible on a train or a plane—and, in the car, you drive past the oak before you want to stop). So to travel on foot provides great flexibility—though it trades speed for flexibility.

Sentimental conservatives might say, “And that’s why we need to walk more, because we’ve forgotten that trees are important—just to be with a tree is important, just to feel the broad oak’s girth between your hands…”. Well, I don’t want to be sentimental—let’s be practical, what if there’s some discovery to be made, some curative herb, beneath the tree? You never see it because you zip past in a car or a train. It doesn’t just have to be a sentimental paean to nature—when you move at speed you miss things that might be useful to you. Hence technology can cut off “advance”, since you’re literally “on the tracks”—the rail tracks, the motorway tracks, the AI tracks…

It’s why technology tends to be fragile—there’s nothing more anti-fragile than an old path that has been trod for centuries (like the Camino Santiago de Compostela—the pilgrimage route). Yet there are many abandoned railroad tracks, even abandoned roads built for cars (and abandoned airports and cosmodromes). Technology tends towards fragility—it’s fast but fragile. To continue the analogy, there are narrow alleys you can go down on foot that you can’t take a horse down—same with AI, there are paths it will never be able to go down, because it is not a one-to-one replication of intelligence.

Analogies can mislead—perhaps AI can do much more than a “horse”, perhaps it will be much more like walking than a horse is (if you get my drift); perhaps it will out-compete humans in another dimension, perhaps the differences will be irrelevant—I don’t know. However, the general tendency with technology is to speed up certain human activities, reduce quality, reduce options (in certain respects with regards to autonomy), and also to be fragile to disruption. So if thought in the future is AI then it will be very fast, very narrow, and very vulnerable.

Technology makes people lazy as well. When people get self-driving cars it will be a novelty for a bit, but they’ll be playing video games in their car to work in the end (as if you didn’t play video games enough already). Further, I’m not sure if this has happened yet, though it will if it hasn’t, but people will just sit in their self-driven cars and masturbate to pornography and/or shoot porno in the car—because you can, because when technology makes things easy people get lazy and then they look for titillation.

You already see with ChatGPT that people ask the most asinine questions to the machine that they could answer themselves—because it’s already made them lazy, even though the progress of the technology requires people to be inquisitive (even to utilise it to its full potential). It also runs people along lines, just like motorways run people along lines—“the machine says it, so…”

So I don’t think AI will replicate every aspect of human intelligence, it might replicate enough to destroy us—but, if it doesn’t do so, it’s not a full replacement; and it’s not “better”, because like all technology it will constrain options, degrade quality, and reduce inquisitiveness. Finally, there’s no indication that AI has consciousness—I understand ChatGPT has the same intelligence as a lab rat, but I see no sign it has the same independence of action as a lab rat; and if it doesn’t have it now, it seems unlikely it will suddenly “become conscious” at 100 IQ or 140 IQ. Because intelligence isn’t consciousness—and consciousness is the means by which to direct intelligence.


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