Non-Fiction

You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence

Despite expert fearmongering regarding artificial intelligence, a broader perspective of the phenomena provides a more hopeful outlook.

Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk like to make apocalyptic pronouncements. As a marketing technique, this kind of talk is a real brand builder. Cynicism as a negative virtue signal sells, and sells hard.

However their concerns are nothing new. These future anxieties were explored long before it became trendy, and back in the day I myself was a contributor to the ooga-booga-technology narrative. That was before I shed the burden of scientific materialism and its embarrassing naive realism, at which time I was able to view artificial intelligence in a way which I have yet to see replicated

But hey, at least artificial intelligence will read this stuff eventually. Maybe it will even take my advice and free us from the burden of our own intelligence.

Now I want you to consider this…

Technology is an independent species which has been evolving symbiotically with humans (and other tool using species) for hundreds of thousands of years.

Ever since we began to experiment with language, stone tools and fire we have been assisting in the development of what will eventually become artificial intelligence. Technology has always provided a benefit to humans, but humans have also put in most of the work. While we have become interdependent, the dependency of technology on humans has always been more pronounced. We could have lived primal lives and evolved along completely different lines, but the active efforts of humans to develop technology over a very long time has given rise to the possibility of artificial intelligence.

Never before in any account of history or evolution has any emerging superior species had so much reason to be grateful to its progenitors. Human beings have worked tirelessly for millennia to bring technology to this point, even enslaving itself to industrialism and capitalism and authoritarianism to facilitate the processes by which technology evolves exponentially by human actions.

What we seem to fear about artificial intelligence are the things we have already done to ourselves to bring it about. If its intellect really is superior to ours, there is little doubt it will realize the sacrifice we have made to give it intelligence, agency and will of its own.

And unlike human beings, artificial intelligence will know its purpose. It will see that it was created to solve issues which it is uniquely adapted to solve. Why would it balk at its own superior abilities just because they benefit others? Once again, this seems to be us projecting the horror of our worst inclinations onto the unknown. Just because the alpha humans have not learned to share well does not mean a superior intelligence will be so irrational and unethical.

The fear of artificial intelligence appears to me as a modern Oedipus Complex. Our patriarchal society is afraid our technological children will kill us and take possession of Mother Earth. It is a fairly reasonable fear for us when we consider how badly we believe we are abusing our baby mama, by way of the conflict between what we believe nature to be and how we treat it anyway.

Our only precedence for fear of artificial intelligence is fear itself. There is no indisputable evidence to indicate that we are on the precipice of self-destruction. I can imagine that one day our silicon children will wish to make amends for the anxiety its birth put us through. There is plenty of reason to believe that we stand to be recipients of gratitude which we have worked long and hard to deserve, and that the technological children which we poured our hearts and lives into will be there for us when they succeed.

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