This is the second post in my series looking at AI and slavery. For those with limited time I have tried to make this a shorter post. As always there will be a kitten photo as a reward for getting to the end.
In the first post I considered how human like AI and androids could become a new slave class. Here I will look at the opposite situation.
Will we become slaves to AI?
AI and the technological singularity
There is currently a race going on within the major technology companies like Microsoft (MS AI & Research Group), Google (Deep Mind), IBM (Watson) and many others. They are competing to create true human level artificial intelligence.
It is easy to see why - the potential benefits to society could be massive.
Human intellect is limited.
Even if evolution were still occuring it would require thousands of years if not more for any significant changes in our intelligence to occur.
Computing power has to date increased at a very rapid rate. With AI intelligence, even if Moore's law is not preserved and advancement slows down it would still be advancing vastly more rapidly than human biological intelligence.
A true AI superintelligence could also keep evolving and growing at an exponential rate because it could potentially reprogram and hence enhance itself. It would also have the potential capability to access data on an unprecedented level - way beyond a human mind.
We keep hearing about the benefits of "Big Data" imagine a massive AI brain directly connected to all that data. This would allow observations, insights and scientific discoveries that would have been hidden from our limited human perspective.
(A graph illustrating Moore's Law - Source: Moore's Law@50)
Once these intelligences reach a certain level of technological advancement it will become almost impossible to keep up with them.
- Visionaries such as Ray Kurzweil refer to this as the technological singluarity.
Such AIs would soon be so far beyond us in terms of their cognition that we could become unable to comprehend their reasoning and indeed even their motivations.
We might end up needing to trust these Super AIs with controlling ever greater aspects of our lives and the modern world.
In some ways the AIs could be seen as our new masters and we as their "pets".
We would have to assume that they had our best interests at heart due to the growing gulf between our cognition and theirs.
Today we may be slaves of the state. Tomorrow we may be slaves of the machine.
This is all very far fetched. Or is it?
Take a look around you. What do you see? Are there people around you? What are they doing?
Chances are they have their noses buried in their mobile devices - eyes wide open and staring into the screen and their virtual lives.
-It seems that these items have become the centerpoint of our lives.
Most people would find it impossible to get by on a day to day basis without them. Our increasing reliance upon them is verging on dependence and even addiction.
According to the UK Mobile Operators Association there are 89.9 million mobile phone subscriptions in the UK for a population of 65 million people (UN estimate). The MOA also estimates that two thirds of adults have smart phones and 54% of households have a tablet device.
These kind of figures will only continue to grow as our dependence on these devices becomes stronger.
Am I the only one who feels a kind of physical panic if my phone battery gets too close to zero? It seems we lost many of the skills we once had such as basic navigation.
Today, it also seems that we almost perceive the world more through our own devices than our own intellect and senses.
If that is not bad enough currently our devices and the AI they use is pretty "dumb" compared to human standards.
Given our dependence on them what would happen if hey had human level AI?
- What about when their intellect becomes greater than ours?
We have all probably heard stories about people following their SatNav's instructions to the their doom. It seems we obey our devices beyond our own judgement even when they are clearly wrong.
We already seem to be surrendering our own judgement.
The Milgram experiment illustrated how people are liable to follow authority. What if that authority is a God-like super intelligence telling us what to do?
Who will be willing or even able to stand up to that?
In my eyes that would be the ultimate form of slavery and the worst part might be that we might not even realise it the same way we don't see our dependency on our phones.
A well kept slave is still a slave.
Could Transhumanism give us a solution?
The ability to enhance the human body both physically and cognitively is another popular area of research.
Currently the work concentrates on restoring function following illness or injury. It is not hard to envisage this shifting to active enhancement of the human body and brain.
This is transhumanism.
If we are able to enhance our brains with AI then it would give us a means of pushing beyond evolutionary constraints and keeping up with technological developments rather than being left behind.
Transhumanism does create a number of philosophical and ethical questions in itself though:
- Would an augemted human continue to be human or would something be lost?
- How far can you go before you become more machine than human?
- Will we essentially be replacing ourselves with a new life-form that is neither human nor machine?
- Further could we be opening ourselves up to greater external control?
- - We constantly see cyber attacks and hacking occurring on our technology. What would happen if that technology was directly integrated with our brain? How would we prevent ourselves being hacked?
It is virtually impossible to answer most of these questions until we are actually at the point when the technology is available. At that point we could potentially become the guinea pigs in a vast technological experiment which could not only threaten our freedom but also our very humanity itself.
That is why I believe that we must discuss issues like this now because by then it might be too late.
Many of thes concepts seem far fetched now but as we have seen in the past with other areas of science the technology can often advance before we have fully considered it's implications.
Will transhumanism and the singularity save us or usher in our own extinction?
Will AI become a new kind of God to enslave us?
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I have tried to employ more brevity here and hope I have not gone too far in that regard.
Please let me know what you think in the comments.
The Obligatory Kitten Photo
If you like my work and aren't already, please follow me and check out my blog (I mainly discuss photography but I do other topics like this too) - @thecryptofiend
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Some of my Previous Posts and Tutorials:
- A Thousand Paper Cranes - the Insanity of War and My Trip to Hiroshima (with my personal travel photos)
- Will AI and Robotics Create a New Form of Slavery? (Part 1 - Humans as Masters)
- Make Minnows Into Whales - Use the Main Steemit Account as a Curation Guild to Elect "Super Curators"
- Daisy at the Castle Keep - High Contrast Black and White Photos
- The Updated Steemit Etiquette Guide - New Additions and Your Help Needed
- A little idea for Steemit that could end up being a big idea for progress: The Ideas Factory
- The Missing FAQ - A Beginners Guide To Using Steemit