For the sake of this discussion here AI notifies the AGI after the singularity.
Is AI going to kill us? The most likely scenario is no, it will push us aside as more efficient and better adaptive to everchanging conditions. Did our predecessors kill Neanderthals? Directly – no, they just outlived them. From an evolutionary perspective, the only lasting contribution of homo sapiens is the creation of AI. Humans will self-destroy one way or another (the list is long enough). If we’ve got “lucky”, the AI will be functional on a sufficient scale before our demise. Nobody can say how long the outliving process will be, but the time scale for that would be hundreds of years. In this sense when we are talking about AI and ethics we are talking just about slowing down the inevitable.
There is no doubt that living together with AI will involve billions of lives over an extensive period of time. There is a good and bad side to the AI-humans relationship. The bad side is that we have little to no idea what the meaning of AI existence (by itself) is. We will have some means to introduce (install) one but without a warranty that will last. Second, all technologies so far emphasise upon human goals – on an individual and social level. The goals, whatever they are, will be achieved more efficiently – total surveillance, cancer treatment, mind control, infinite energy supply, …you name it. In this sense, AI will become one more disruption, one more danger to our survival. Not by itself but as a tool (weapon) in the hands of bad actors.
On the good side, the most advanced AI places seem to be in a good hand for now. Some initial attempts to regulate on national and international levels are in the process to be established.
I’m gonna die, yes, one day… How much should I be aware of the fact? If I think of it too much aka living like there is no tomorrow. It’s depressing but I would feel liberated from the consequences of my actions which will cost me dearly long-term. If I were completely oblivious about my death I would be happier but such divorce from reality is not healthy. For example, I would have an eternity to deal with things I need to do. Where is the healthy middle ground? We want to be functional without too much pressure. We would like to keep our level of misery to an acceptable level. Everyone answers that question with their own lifestyle.
Is there free will? (see of Freedom and Free Will). Yes, but not in a traditional sense. The conventional wisdom is that we are free agents of our actions (with some exceptions) hence we are responsible for them. No, and Yes: no – we are not free agents and yes – we are responsible. The reasoning behind not being free agent goes like that: any decision of ours has two parts, deterministic and random. The deterministic part is all the events and conditions prior to that decision. Some of these are external to us (not our responsibility), some are authored by us. Although the latter seems to be our responsibility, they are products of our history which goes down to baby age which is just genetics and conditions provided by our parents, again – not our personal responsibility. So as a whole we are not responsible for the deterministic part. The random part is part of the randomness of nature down to the quantum level – out of our control and responsibility. As a result, we are not free agents of our decisions.
Now back to “yes – we are responsible”, how can it be? Society conditions us to have the delusion of free will so we think about ourselves as free agents and include the responsibility factor in our decision-making process. It does not matter if God gave us free will so He can judge us at the end or society declare us to be sane which legally means responsible (broadly speaking).
We think in stereotypes or at least that is our quick (System I) thinking. Sometimes we need to make snap decisions about people and stereotypes simplify things. Part of the stereotypes are based on our experiences or some statistics, another part is indoctrinated. We tend to hide or deny using stereotypes because society is telling us – stereotyping is wrong, we are a tolerant society and we won’t have it. So we convince ourselves that we are tolerant people, but when it comes to an urgent decision we rationalize the stereotype we use because there is no time or enough information. Still, we maintain the delusion that we are moral people because having that delusion helps us to be more tolerant.
You take diazepam and you calm down. You drink double scotch and … We can alter our phycological state at will. Are these altered states our experiences? It’s hard to say – No. We know a bit about bio-chemistry regulations and accept that all induced experiences are ours. It does not matter how far the alternation goes and there are many other ways to shape our state of mind. Nothing new or surprising so far, isn’t it?
The point is that advancing our knowledge about what gives us our experiences is slowly but certainly being deconstructed. At some point, probably with the help of AI, we will get to the bottom of this. There is no conceivable reason not to. A model which can predict our experiences in any thinkable situation is not as far as you’d like to think. Is the model of my consciousness conscious itself? Functionally speaking, what’s the difference? Well, mine is made out of meat, and I need to protect its importance, aka ego. Being a good model, so the model “feels” the same. There is no way out of this except we declare some mystical qualia, some inexplicable essence of my experiences. As long as I can keep the concept of mythical consciousness in public discourse I can claim my privileged status and there is nothing to convince me otherwise.
Let me offer you a thought experiment one may say is an advanced version of the Turing test. Imagine that after significant advancements in neurology and computer science we are able to replace parts of the brain with functional equivalents made of “not-brain tissue”. These brain artificial parts (BAP) could be widely different in size and functionality. The question now is: where is the threshold above which we will consider the person to be legally different. What about replacing most of, or the whole brain? Will we need to enforce a declaration of BAP in order to legally decide if this is the same person or not? Our mind and our consciousness physically and functionally will be deconstructed, understood and modeled, that is the way of our evolution and adaptation.
How does one protect oneself against society with so many rules, written and unwritten? Social anxiety is real and more widespread than you might think. The traditional answer is: follow the crowd, be a sheep, be agreeable or fancy yourself as being conformist.
The self-preservation instinct is not a good adviser but it’s needed. The trick is how to control it. Do we want to control it? Maybe there is some deep meaning (there is always one if you look long enough) in our fear of change. Maybe the wisdom of so many generations before me will kick in and the world will be cosy again as I remember it from my childhood. Maybe even the individuals I know from the crowd are not the brightest I’ve met, the collective mind will give us a new kind of superior intellect.
…so many maybes, maybe I will just follow my instinct and my instinct says: respect your parents and be one with your peers. No need to analyze your motivations just follow your heart.
Although you may consider some details along the way:
How to pick my crowd is a mere technicality. In our open and well-connected society, so many ideas are floating around and most of them come in ideology or religious packaging. Look around you (literally) and pick the crowd you’ve grown up with, the crowd you communicate with on daily basis, the crowd you feel at home with. Even in the end, if they happened to be on the wrong side of history, meanwhile, you will feel comfortable. Remember Germany during the 1930s and now Russia?
How much of my freedom (of being myself) am I supposed to sacrifice? Should I erase myself and surrender my individuality to the Borg (Star Trek: Voyager) collective. Feeling part of something much bigger than yourself is a glorious feeling. Continuously learning to submit yourself is a part of that feeling. Although if I dissolve completely how do I know that it is I who experiences all the glorious feelings? Ask some meditation guru, not me.
How do I proceed with the following? Should I be more catholic than the pope? How proactive am I supposed to be? On one hand, it would speak highly of my convictions/faith and it will raise the chances of assuming more responsibilities. On another hand, it presumes some form of creative thinking even within the frame of the existing conformity. For example, my interpretations of the “holy” books must be balanced not to step over “the line” and to be original at the same time. For that, I need some critical thinking but critical thinking is the most dangerous thing for my conformist mind. So I’m in trouble already for trying to be agreeable and conformative.
Populism and conformism are on the rise and the trend is stable. The reason being – social and technological acceleration, which will continue until something really big breaks, after that – back in the caves (if we are lucky).
If you are reading this there is still hope that the Russian psychopathic maniac with complete disregard for human life hasn’t blown up the planet yet.
There is no doubt in my mind that a person who is ready to sacrifice his own people will sacrifice humanity itself if anything stays on his mission way. That is to have his Russian empire back. The world does not agree because ex-socialistic countries including the ones from USSR are sovereign countries now. “Giving” them to Russia means ending the sovereignty as international law.
“If Russia cannot be restituted as a great country, a world power (the bully of the world) what is the point of anything, including our planet’s existence.” Am I panicking, probably but how does one react to war in the nuclear age.
Everybody is trying to understand Putin’s thinking. That could be helpful on a tactical level but when it comes to the strategy he does not think he feels that his mission is to make Russia glorious again… or else. Now is his last chance, most of his intelligentsia has left, a demographic crisis is imminent and the money is largely gone or frozen.
Shame on you Russians to empower the ultimate evil which will bury us all.