Elon Musk is right.
And humans are already slaves of some self-organized technological super-intelligence, made of flesh and sillicon. It’s just many of them out there fighting over us as resrources and the evolutionary battle hasn’t been settled just yet.
So let me reflect on these doomsdays scenarios:
I think we tend to undermine the algorithmic nature of the world, and so the wide variety of scopes and the vast magnitudes of scales that the so-called *evolution* can rule, beyond biology.
It’s an old story. Trees made us to be their polinating agents and we cut them down. We made AI and it will enslave us.
So he is right. But this doomsday scenario isn’t like a Terminator story.
A ‘god-like’ AI is a true threat. But it doesn’t need to be a robot, a super computer, or a conventional AI.
These god-like creatures have algorithmic nature, similar to AI. So let’s talk about that instead.
First of all, algorithms don’t run in a methaphysical space sperated from our world. Algorithms need *stuff* to run on; They need flesh and sillicon. Also they were not invented by humans with the digital computers. They have been around for a long long time.
The truth is, we are already slaves of self-organized algorithmic beings higher than ourselves. The technological end legal entities that interact with each other and the machinery of our civilization for example. These super organisms beyond any individual’s power have evolved an order and dictate what we should do. They rule us, own us, embed and encompass us; We are like cells in their bodies.
What are exactly these algorithmic super-organisms? Very difficult to pin point.
If we can spot and name them, we would still view them as vague concepts entangled with each other like a spaghetti, rather than detached phsyical objects. I don’t think from our perspective we can define these super-organisms as separate entities like the conventional organisms that we know, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Perhaps we can, with our limited understandings, identify some of them that are somewhat immediately built by us: organizations, nation-states, political parties or corporates. But there is much more complexity that goes above our heads when we include all the algorithmic functionalities within and in between them.
It is really these entities who make wars, invent alphabet, or send objects to Mars, not our individual leaders, inventors or visionaries. They have habits and patterns like our personality traits, and one may say we made science as an endeaver to understand those patterns and traits.
These algorithmic gods and masters are beyond our understanding as we are beyond our cells. We are just a small part of them. And they are intelligent too. More than us or less, is difficult to tell. They are operating at different scales and deal with different problems for the survival of their code. Are we more intelligent than our cells? What about the cancerous ones? If so how one of them can kill us?
I think we already are slaves of some god-like beings that are in their infancies and are co-evolving with us. And it shouldn’t be surprising if their greed for domination and survival as their emergent property, tend to accelerate out of our control and if we find ourselves captured in a deterministic ordered that we built together, while there is no way out.
We have experienced this situation before. With the idols, commandments, money, cities and legal systems we have previously made codes that became stronger than us. These codes are already our masters, exhibiting recognizable patterns taking us to wars and situations beyond the decisions of any CEO, king or emperror.
And I think of AI threat along the same lines, only on steroid. AI is scary because it runs on increasingly faster platforms and can accelarate since it may gain the power to make itself acceleratingly smarter.
When it comes to what matters to us, things like freedom of humanity, what we call AI and is warned about can co-evolve to make the grip of such evolving super-organisms much tighter. It can give them more efficiency to execute their codes against the competition and help them minimize their cost-functions more aggressively to optimize their goal, money, growth, profit, order, whatever it might be.
While nature is at its own game, the bad news for us may that our current welfare and freedom can last for only a short moment in the history. That the priviledged position of the enlightened modern man may be just a temporary behavior of one of these algorithmic entities going through a phase transition.
So these fuzzy pilosophical especulations aside, I think what makes AI dangerous is something like this:
* * *
Technology has transformed us. As our individual survival depends more and more on the interaction with technology, we are gaining some freedom while losing some. Our functions are changing rapidly.
We are already not free to think with our own individual brains. Are we? The dominant codes, wide-spread systems and algorithms are dictating how we should think. What questions should be asked and what options are out there. How we should model the world, how we should think how to live. Call these forces the society, economy, media, culture; They have rules and systems and we get our thinking patterns from them. The most successful of them have evolved to copy themselves like programs in our heads and they are ruling us already.
We see now that smartphones controlled from small brain-like power hubs and control panels in the tech giants already control the masses. But they even control the CEOs of the those giants in some way. You see when these powerful individuals seem to be in full control, how suddenly desperate they become in the face of unforeseen challenges?
This is just one decade of smartphones taking over our lives. Soon enough we will even have chips in our brains and implants will replace screens and touchpads. So it would be much easier to control us, and voluntarily even.
Environmentally, almost all wild animals who did not follow the new order are gone already and only us the tamed ones are left. Some of us domesticated animals will be the the pigs locked up in the slaughter house. Some would be workers trapped somewhere else to provide electricity to those facilities. Some of us would be more free programming the machinery, some are following someone elses’ orders, who gets order from another one, who is somewhat voted by us through the propaganda that is fed to us by . No one’s really free already.
Who wrote all these code? No body as far as we know. We all together did it and it evolved with us. And it’s there now anyway. AI can only make us voluntarily head to make such a destiny much faster. Because it potentially knows us way better than we do ourselves.
We can’t even say if this scenario is good or bad. It just is. I think there’s no right or wrong at this scale.
Good or bad, I think a kidney cell can never go back to float freely in the wild precamberian oceans of the earth like its ancestors did. Not after it evolved to enjoy the economy of scale and its existence dependent to interact with the rest of the nody.
We may be heading to uncertain futures like this that find ourselves increasingly *locked up*, if not physically but algorithmically, to run functions that deals with our very survival. It sounds deterministic and sad. But we are heading that way already. I think AI could only make it faster and could come up with new creatures that would blow our current minds.
There is one thing for sure. What we are experiencing now is anything but a state of equilibrium, so we are heading to something pecular. We humans as the catalyzers of this process may try to stir it so the established future order wouldn’t be upleasant for our species. Although I doubt if we can manage.